Can Apple iPhones get viruses?

iPhones and other iOS devices are generally considered quite secure against malware and viruses compared to other platforms like Android. However, iPhones are not completely immune to malware. There have been a few isolated cases of iOS malware over the years. But in general, Apple’s tight control over the iOS ecosystem makes it much harder for viruses to spread on iPhones.

Can iPhones get computer viruses?

No, iPhones cannot get traditional computer viruses that infect Windows PCs. This is because iPhones run iOS, which is an entirely different operating system than Windows. Computer viruses are specifically designed to infect and spread on Windows machines. However, iOS has its own vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited by iOS-specific malware.

Can iPhones get virus infections?

Yes, iPhones can sometimes get malware infections, but it is much rarer compared to other platforms. To date, there have only been a handful of notable iOS malware outbreaks:

  • Ikee – The first known iOS malware that attacked jailbroken iPhones in 2009.
  • Find and Call – Malware disguised as a map app that stole user contacts in 2012.
  • XcodeGhost – Infected apps in the App Store after developers unknowingly used tampered development tools in 2015.
  • Pegasus – Powerful spyware used to target journalists and activists via zero-day exploits in 2016-2017.

However, thousands of new Android malware strains appear every year. Malware is much less common on iOS due to the walled garden nature of the App Store and Apple’s code signing requirements.

How can iPhones get infected by malware?

There are a few ways iPhones can become infected with malware:

  • Installing from untrusted sources – Avoid installing apps from outside the official App Store, as they have not been vetted by Apple and may contain malicious code.
  • Jailbreaking – The process of removing iOS restrictions makes iPhones more vulnerable to malware infection.
  • Malicious links – Visiting compromised websites that exploit browser vulnerabilities could install malware.
  • Physical access – Sophisticated attackers like the Pegasus spyware can infect iOS devices they have physical access to.

However, the most common way is by tricking users into installing trojan apps that managed to sneak past Apple’s App Store review process with some form of deception.

Can out-of-date iPhones get viruses?

iPhones that are running severely outdated and unsupported versions of iOS are at a higher risk of infection. Once Apple stops releasing security updates for an iOS version, any remaining vulnerabilities could be used to spread malware on iPhones running that unsupported OS.

For example, the Find and Call malware in 2012 targeted iPhones running the older iOS 4, which no longer received patches. More recently, the Pegasus spyware exploited vulnerabilities present in iOS 9 and earlier, which stopped receiving updates in 2018.

So keeping your iPhone up-to-date with the latest iOS version is important to get vital security fixes and minimize the malware attack surface.

Can jailbroken iPhones get viruses?

Yes, jailbroken iPhones are significantly more vulnerable to malware infections. The process of jailbreaking disables many of Apple’s security protections in order to gain more control over the operating system.

Without Apple’s code signing restrictions and app vetting process, it becomes much easier for malware to be distributed through unofficial app stores. The earliest iPhone malware like Ikee preyed specifically on jailbroken devices for this reason.

So while jailbreaking enables greater iPhone customization, it comes at a serious security cost. Most malware targeting iOS focuses on exploiting jailbroken iPhones.

What are the signs of a virus on an iPhone?

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

  • Unknown apps installed on your iPhone that you didn’t download
  • Apps crashing frequently or working incorrectly
  • Excessive pop-up ads and notifications
  • Sluggish performance and rapid battery drain
  • Overheating even when phone is not in heavy use
  • Weird background activity when apps are not in use
  • Unexplained data usage spikes

You may also notice more subtle signs like personal data being transmitted without your knowledge, email spam to your contacts, or other private information leaks.

How to check for viruses on iPhone

Here are some ways to check your iPhone for infections:

  • Device scanning apps – Download a reputable malware scanning app like Malwarebytes to check for iOS threats.
  • Monitor network traffic – Use a network analyzer tool and watch for suspicious outbound transfers of your private data.
  • Review apps – Carefully go through your installed apps and remove any unknown or suspicious apps.
  • Factory reset – As a last resort, wipe and restore your iPhone to factory default settings.

You can also watch for abnormal battery drain, CPU usage spikes, unexpected data usage, or iPhone overheating as general indicators of infection.

How to remove a virus from an iPhone

If you confirm your iPhone has been infected with malware, here are steps to remove it:

  1. Delete any suspicious or unknown apps from your iPhone.
  2. Run a reputable anti-malware app to find and remove any malware.
  3. Check your online accounts for any unauthorized access or activity.
  4. Change passwords for iCloud, App Store, and other sensitive accounts.
  5. Backup personal data and perform a factory reset to wipe your iPhone.
  6. Avoid reinstalling apps from unknown sources after the reset.

This process should remove any infection from your iPhone and return it to a clean state. Be very cautious about installing apps from outside the App Store after resetting your device.

How to prevent iPhone viruses

Here are some tips to avoid malware infections on your iPhone:

  • Only install apps from the official Apple App Store.
  • Keep your iPhone updated with the latest iOS version.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone.
  • Exercise caution when opening links and attachments.
  • Setup a passcode lock and enable two-factor authentication.
  • Use reputable security and VPN apps for protection.
  • Backup your iPhone regularly.

Practicing basic security hygiene like these tips will make it very unlikely your iPhone will get infected with a virus or malware.


While iPhones have historically been quite secure, they are not completely immune to malware infections. A small number of iOS threats have emerged over the years, often targeting jailbroken devices. However, due to Apple’s tight control over app distribution, threats are less common on iOS compared to other platforms.

Practicing caution when downloading apps, keeping your iPhone updated, and avoiding jailbreaking are the best ways to ensure your iPhone avoids malware infections. Common sense security habits can go a long way in keeping your iPhone secure.