Can an iPhone get malware from visiting a website?

Quick Answer

Yes, iPhones can get malware from visiting malicious websites. However, the risk is relatively low compared to other platforms like Android or Windows due to iOS’s closed ecosystem and security protections.

Can iPhones get viruses or malware?

Yes, iPhones are susceptible to malware just like other computing devices. However, it is much rarer for iPhones to be infected compared to Android phones or Windows PCs. There are a few key reasons for this:

  • iOS is a closed operating system that Apple has tight control over. All apps must be approved by Apple before appearing on the App Store.
  • Apple’s App Review process screens apps for malware before they are published.
  • iOS implements sandboxing, which isolates apps from each other and the operating system.
  • Apple actively polices and removes malicious apps from the App Store if they are discovered.
  • iOS has built-in security features like Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) that make it harder for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities.

So while not completely immune, iPhones have much stronger security defenses against malware compared to other platforms. However, there are still a few ways iPhones can become infected:

Malicious websites

Visiting a compromised website is one potential vector for an iPhone to be infected by malware. Safari has strong security protections, but vulnerabilities have been discovered over the years that can be leveraged to attack the device’s browser:

  • Drive-by downloads: Malicious code is automatically downloaded and run without user interaction.
  • Use-after-free bugs: Allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the device.
  • Buffer overflows: Crashes the browser and lets malware take control.

If a user visits a website that contains malicious code designed to exploit one of these browser vulnerabilities, malware could potentially be downloaded onto the device without the user’s knowledge.

Malicious apps

While extremely rare, occasionally malware does get through Apple’s App Review process. Developers have found ways to obfuscate malicious behavior that gets activated after approval. There have also been cases of apps becoming compromised after publication, allowing malware to infect users.


Jailbreaking removes many of the default iOS security protections, opening the device up to more traditional malware risks. Jailbroken devices can download apps outside the App Store that haven’t been properly vetted. Technical users should avoid jailbreaking their primary iPhones.

So in summary, iPhones can sometimes get malware but generally have much more robust security than other platforms. The main infection vectors are malicious websites exploiting browser vulnerabilities, malicious apps making it through App Review, and jailbreaking.

Can you get a virus from visiting a website on iPhone?

Yes, it is possible for an iPhone to get a virus or malware infection simply from visiting a malicious website, without any other user interaction required. Here are some examples of how this can happen:

  • Drive-by downloads – The website you visit automatically downloads and executes malware on your device using a browser exploit or vulnerability.
  • Malicious ads – The website displays malicious ads that contain exploits to infect your device. Even legitimate sites can sometimes display malicious ads unintentionally.
  • Watering hole attacks – The website itself has been compromised to target specific users. For example, infecting an iPhone forum to target iPhone users.
  • Phishing sites – The website impersonates a legitimate site and tricks you into entering login credentials or other sensitive information.

Some signs that indicate your iPhone may have picked up malware from a website:

  • Unexpected pop-up ads appear.
  • Your browser, Safari, crashes frequently.
  • Your iPhone runs slower than usual.
  • The device gets hot when you are not using it.
  • You notice unwanted activity like email being sent without your knowledge.

To protect yourself, be cautious when browsing websites you are unfamiliar with and avoid clicking on suspicious links. Keep your iPhone’s software up-to-date and use security tools like antivirus apps. Using Safari’s Private Browsing mode can also help shield you from some risks.

What types of malware can infect iPhones?

Here are some of the more common types of malware that can affect iPhones:


Spyware is designed to covertly monitor and collect data from an infected device. On iPhones, spyware can:

  • Record phone calls, messages, emails
  • Track web browsing history
  • Activate the camera and microphone to spy
  • Steal photos, contacts, and other personal data

Spyware often disguises itself as a legitimate app and can be hard to detect. Signs of infection include faster battery drain, sluggish performance, and abnormal network traffic.


Adware bombards infected devices with pop-up ads to generate fraudulent ad revenue. On iPhones, adware can:

  • Open intrusive ad pages over existing content
  • Display full-screen interstitial ads
  • Redirect web searches to advertising sites

Adware is often hidden within freemium apps, games, and pirated software. Unwanted ads, high data usage, and apps freezing/crashing can indicate adware.


Ransomware encrypts data on infected devices and demands payment for decryption. On iPhones, ransomware can:

  • Lock down apps and features
  • Encrypt photos, messages, and other files
  • Display ransom notes demanding payment

Ransomware typically spreads via fake apps, infected websites, and malicious links. Symptoms include disabled device functionality and ransom payment instructions.

Banking Trojans

Banking trojans steal financial information and credentials from infected devices. On iPhones, they can:

  • Overlay fake banking app interfaces to steal login details
  • Redirect transactions to criminal-controlled accounts
  • Intercept SMS messages to bypass authentication

Banking trojans often masquerade as Apple notifications to steal credentials stored in the device. Unexpected account activity may signal infection.


Botnets take control of devices to carry out coordinated malicious activities as part of an attacker-controlled network. On iPhones, botnets can:

  • Spread spam, phishing emails, or texts
  • Launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
  • Illicitly mine cryptocurrency

Botnets spread through infected websites injecting code into browsers. Slow performance, overheating, and spiking data usage point to possible botnet infection.

How can iPhone malware infect your device?

There are a few common infection vectors through which malware can find its way onto an iPhone:

Malicious Websites

Visiting compromised websites is a major source of iPhone infections. Malware can be downloaded through:

– Malicious ads containing exploits even on legitimate sites
– Social engineering tricks like fake pop-ups tricking you into clicking
– Drive-by downloads that require no user interaction

Keeping your iPhone’s operating system patched and avoiding suspicious sites provides protection.

Public WiFi Networks

Connecting to public WiFi such as cafes can expose you to attackers aiming to intercept data or spread malware to connected devices. Avoid logging into sensitive accounts or accessing financial data over public WiFi.

Infected Files

Opening or downloading infected files from questionable sources – like email attachments from unknown senders – can introduce malware. Be wary of compressed files (.zip) or documents like .pdf that can conceal malicious code.

Malicious Apps

While extremely rare, occasionally malware manages to get through Apple’s App Store vetting process concealed inside trojanized apps. Stick to downloading apps from trustworthy developers, read ratings, and monitor app behavior.

Phishing Attacks

Watch out for phishing emails, texts, calls, and scams aiming to steal Apple ID credentials or financial data – a compromised Apple account can provide access to your iPhone.


Jailbreaking bypasses Apple’s builtin security measures. While not malicious on its own, it opens iPhones to much higher malware risks from untrusted app stores.

How to tell if your iPhone has a virus

Here are some signs that may indicate your iPhone has been infected by malware:

  • Strange pop-ups: Unexpected lock screens, ads, or warnings could point to adware or a scam.
  • Sluggish performance: If apps are freezing, crashing, or your iPhone is running hot or has poor battery life, malware may be bogging down your system.
  • High data usage: Adware and some spyware strains cause excess mobile data use which shows up on your usage reports.
  • Unexpected vibrations: Some malware triggers vibrations at random intervals so pay attention.
  • Apps behaving oddly: Apps force closing, displaying odd overlays, or secretly enabling/disabling things like Bluetooth or WiFi can indicate compromise.
  • Unknown activity: Unfamiliar apps appearing, queued emails you didn’t send, unknown outgoing calls or texts can point to spyware.

You may also notice things like device settings being changed without your approval, Safari redirecting to strange sites, or abnormal battery drain even when not actively using your iPhone.

How to remove malware from iPhone

If you suspect your iPhone has malware, here are steps to detect it and remove any infections:

1. Run an Antivirus Scan

Run a full system scan using a reputable iOS antivirus app like Avast, AVG, Malwarebytes, or Norton. It will detect and isolate any suspicious malicious apps or files.

2. Check Running Apps

Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and check for any unfamiliar apps consuming resources. Disable anything suspicious.

3. Delete Recently Installed Apps

Check your app purchase history and delete anything that looks unfamiliar or suspicious that was recently installed.

4. Reset Network Settings

Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings to wipe any improper network configs from malware.

5. Restore Your iPhone

For serious infections, do a full system restore by connecting to iTunes, backing up your data, and selecting to restore your device.

6. Change Apple ID Password

If you suspect account compromise, change your Apple ID password immediately to lock out attackers. Enable two-factor authentication for added security.

Running a reputable mobile security app and keeping it updated, avoiding suspicious links/sites, and updating your iPhone’s iOS regularly are good long-term prevention measures against malware.

How to stay safe and avoid iPhone malware

Here are some tips to improve your security and avoid iPhone malware threats:

  • Keep your iPhone’s operating system updated with the latest security patches.
  • Only download apps from the official App Store, avoid untrusted sources.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone as it disables inbuilt security measures.
  • Use secure, unique passwords – consider a password manager app.
  • Beware of phishing attempts to steal Apple credentials – Apple will never spontaneously ask for your password.
  • Use a VPN when on public WiFi to encrypt traffic.
  • Be cautious of random pop-ups and unsolicited links which can hide exploits.
  • Install a trusted mobile security app and keep it updated.

Practicing good security habits goes a long way in keeping your iPhone malware-free. While not immune to threats, Apple devices have much stronger defenses than platforms like Android. Keep software patched, don’t take unnecessary risks, and avoid becoming complacent about security.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a virus from Safari on iPhone?

Yes, it is possible for an iPhone to get infected by malware simply by browsing websites through Safari. Potential risks include malicious ads, social engineering tricks, and drive-by downloads that exploit browser vulnerabilities. Keep Safari updated and exercise caution when visiting unknown sites.

Do iPhones need antivirus software?

Due to Apple’s tight control of its ecosystem, iPhones are at lower malware risk than other devices. However, antivirus software can still provide added protection against suspicious apps, phishing, network threats, and any potential vulnerabilities. Free or low-cost iOS antivirus apps are available.

Can Apple iPhones get hacked?

While extremely difficult, it is possible for iPhones to get hacked, often by highly sophisticated attackers. Typically this involves finding and exploiting severe vulnerabilities to allow remote access for surveillance or data theft. Keeping your iPhone’s software updated is key to patching potential holes hackers could use.

Can you remove a virus from iPhone without restoring?

Sometimes malware on iPhones can be removed without fully restoring the device. Options include using antivirus tools, deleting suspicious apps, resetting network settings, removing device profiles, revoking app permissions, and clearing cache/data for infected apps. However, serious infections likely require a full restore.

Is iPhone safer than Android?

Generally speaking, iPhones tend to be more secure than Android devices because of Apple’s closed ecosystem approach, app vetting process, quick software updates, and security-focused design. However, Android malware continues to rise given its open model. Both platforms have risks, but iPhones offer strong defenses if users take precautions.


While not immune to cyber threats, Apple’s tight control over the iOS ecosystem significantly reduces the risk of malware for iPhone users compared to other platforms. However, vulnerabilities do periodically emerge that can be exploited through malicious websites, apps, phishing, and network attacks. Practicing good security habits by keeping software updated, using reputable apps, and exercising caution when surfing the web and connecting to public WiFi substantially minimizes the chances of infection. Combining secure user behavior with the builtin protections in iOS provides a robust barrier against most malware risks. However, it’s important for iPhone users not to become complacent and to take sensible steps to protect their devices.