With the growing use of smartphones like iPhones for daily tasks like banking, shopping, and accessing sensitive information, malware that can steal personal data is an increasing threat. iPhones are generally considered more secure than Android phones, but they are still vulnerable to malware attacks. So it’s important for iPhone users to understand how to check their devices for infections.
What is malware?
Malware is short for “malicious software.” It includes viruses, spyware, ransomware, and other unwanted programs that are designed to infect and damage devices and systems. Malware can allow cybercriminals to steal personal information, lock down devices until a ransom is paid, display unwanted ads, and more.
Some common ways malware can get onto an iPhone include:
- Visiting compromised websites
- Downloading infected apps
- Clicking links in phishing emails/texts
- Connecting to public WiFi networks
Even though iPhones are generally more secure than Android devices, they can still become infected by malware. Jailbreaking an iPhone (modifying it to run unauthorized apps) also increases the risk of malware infection.
Signs your iPhone may have malware
Here are some signs that indicate your iPhone may be infected with malware:
- Decreased battery life – Malware can drain batteries faster by running processes in the background.
- Sluggish performance – Malware infections can slow down the phone’s processing speed.
- Data overages – Malware may be secretly uploading data from your phone and using cellular data.
- Pop-up ads – Malware often displays intrusive pop-up ads.
- Unfamiliar apps – Shady new apps you didn’t download may indicate malware.
- Credit card fraud – Malware designed to steal financial information could enable credit card fraud.
- Overheating – Malware activity in the background can cause the phone to get hot.
While things like battery drain and slower performance have other potential causes, seeing multiple possible malware symptoms should raise suspicion. It’s better to be safe and check for malware if anything seems unusual.
How to check for malware on iPhone
Here are some ways to check an iPhone for potential malware infections:
1. Monitor app activity
Check the battery usage charts in Settings -> Battery to see which apps are consuming the most power. Malware often shows up as an unknown or unusual app using excessive battery in the background.
2. Scan with antivirus software
Download a trusted antivirus app like Malwarebytes or Norton Mobile Security to scan for potential malware. These apps check for issues like unknown malicious apps, network security vulnerabilities, phishing links, suspicious texts, and other malware warning signs.
3. Review installed apps
Check Settings -> General -> iPad/iPhone Storage for a list of all apps installed on your device. Look for any apps you don’t remember downloading, which could indicate malware. Also delete any unused apps you don’t need.
4. Update your iOS software
Make sure your iPhone is running the latest iOS software version. Apple releases regular security updates to patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware. Update iOS by going to Settings -> General -> Software Update.
5. Reset network settings
Malware may have modified your WiFi, Bluetooth, or other network settings to spread or steal data. Resetting all network settings in Settings -> General -> Reset erases malware changes and ensures your networks are secure.
6. Restore your iPhone
For a deep, full-system scan, you can completely restore your iPhone software using a computer. This will wipe the device and reinstall a clean iOS version, removing any potential infections. Make sure to back up your data first.
7. Avoid suspicious links/files
Practice safe web browsing by avoiding clicking on unknown links in emails and messages. Also don’t download attachments or files from unverified sources, which could contain malware. Only install apps from the official App Store.
How to avoid iPhone malware
Here are some tips to improve your security and avoid malware infections on your iPhone:
- Keep your iOS version updated
- Only download apps from the App Store
- Don’t jailbreak your device
- Use secure WiFi when possible
- Don’t click suspicious links/attachments
- Install antivirus software
- Use strong passwords
- Beware of public USB charging stations
- Enable two-factor authentication
While iPhones have strong security measures in place, they are still vulnerable in some cases to malware infections. It’s important for users to be vigilant in watching for any unusual behavior or symptoms that could indicate malware. Taking proactive steps to check your iPhone periodically, avoid suspicious links/files, and install trusted security software can help keep your device malware-free.
If your iPhone is showing potential signs of infection, take steps to scan for malware using antivirus apps, monitoring app activity for anything suspicious, and restoring your device software if necessary. Practicing safe browsing/downloading habits and keeping your iPhone’s software updated are also key to preventing malware from taking hold in the first place. With proper precautions, you can feel confident your iPhone is clean and secure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can iPhones get viruses?
Yes, iPhones can become infected with viruses and other malware, although they are generally more secure than Android devices. Any device accessing the internet is potentially vulnerable. iPhones can get viruses by visiting compromised sites, downloading infected apps/files, clicking malicious links, connecting to public WiFi, and jailbreaking.
What are the symptoms of a virus on iPhone?
Potential signs your iPhone has a virus include poor battery life, sluggish performance, overheating, data overages, pop-up ads, credit card fraud, unfamiliar apps installed, and suspicious network activity. Multiple issues happening could indicate malware.
Is antivirus software needed for iPhone?
Antivirus software isn’t absolutely necessary for iPhones, but it can provide an added layer of security. Antivirus apps help scan for malware that may have infected the device, detect vulnerabilities, and identify suspicious activity. Some top options are Norton Mobile Security and Malwarebytes.
How can I remove a virus from my iPhone?
If your iPhone is infected with a virus, you can remove it by first scanning for malware using an antivirus app. You can also erase the virus by resetting all network settings and restoring your iPhone software to factory defaults. Make sure to fully update iOS after removing the virus.
Should I avoid public WiFi on my iPhone?
Public WiFi does carry a higher risk of malware infection compared to private networks. When possible, avoid doing sensitive activities like banking or shopping on public WiFi. Use a VPN if connecting is necessary. Also don’t jailbreak your iPhone as that makes malware infection more likely.
Scanning for Malware on iPhone Using Antivirus Apps
One of the best ways to check for malware on your iPhone is to use a dedicated antivirus or anti-malware app. Here are some top options:
|Malwarebytes||Real-time protection, malware scanner, phishing URL detector|
|Norton Mobile Security||App lock, WiFi security scanner, system advisor|
|TotalAV||Web filtering, app lock, device optimization tools|
|Avast Antivirus Security||WiFi inspector, system optimizer, call blocker|
|McAfee Mobile Security||Dark web monitoring, antivirus scan, privacy advisor|
Key things to look for in an iOS antivirus app:
- Real-time scanning – Continuously checks for threats in the background
- Malware detection – Scans apps, files, memory for malware signatures
- Vulnerability assessment – Checks for unpatched security holes
- Web protection – Blocks access to known malicious sites
- Anti-phishing – Identifies fake emails and text messages
- Network analysis – Monitors WiFi connections for anything suspicious
- Performance optimization – Helps clean up unnecessary clutter slowing down device
While paid antivirus tools like Norton offer the most comprehensive protection, there are also some decent free options like Avast. Just be careful the free antivirus app isn’t malware itself.
Using iPhone Backup to Restore from Malware
If your iPhone has become seriously infected with malware, one option to fully disinfect it is to erase the entire device and restore from a clean backup.
Steps to restore iPhone from backup:
- First, make sure you have a recent, uninfected backup of your iPhone data using iCloud or iTunes.
- On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset and tap “Erase All Content and Settings.”
- On the next screen, confirm the reset. This will wipe your iPhone back to factory settings.
- Once reset, go through the initial device setup prompts until you reach the Apps & Data screen.
- Tap “Restore from iTunes backup” and sign in to iCloud. Choose your desired backup.
- Allow the restore process to fully complete. All your data, settings, and a clean version of iOS will return.
This restore process wipes away any malware that may have infected the operating system while bringing your data and accounts back safely from the backup. Just be absolutely sure your backup is free of malware first.
Tips for preventing reinfection after restore:
- Update to the newest iOS version
- Change Apple ID and iCloud passwords
- Only download apps from the official App Store
- Don’t click questionable links in emails/messages
- Use antivirus/anti-malware software
- Use a VPN when on public WiFi
Following safe practices going forward will help ensure your iPhone stays secure after wiping away the previous malware infection.
Checking iPhone Battery Usage to Detect Malware
One sign of a possible malware infection on your iPhone is if the battery starts draining much faster than usual. Malware can run hidden processes that suck up battery life in the background.
You can check iPhone battery usage to see if any apps are secretly siphoning power:
- Go to Settings > Battery
- Scroll down and review the Battery Usage By App breakdown
- Check for any apps using an excessive amount of background power
- Don’t recognize a high battery using app? It could be malware
- Tap the app to see further details on its background activity
- Consider deleting unrecognized or suspicious apps
- Reset iPhone if multiple symptoms of malware persist
Some other ways to optimize battery life and check for issues:
- Lower screen brightness
- Disable Bluetooth/WiFi when not in use
- Force close recently used apps
- Turn off Background App Refresh
- Check device temperature – malware can cause overheating
- Recharge when battery under 30%
With careful monitoring of battery usage, you can catch some malware infections before they do too much damage. Paired with an antivirus scan, it provides assurance your iPhone is malware-free.
How to Secure Your iPhone from Malware Threats
Here are some best practices to keep your iPhone malware-free:
Keep iOS Up to Date
Regular iOS updates contain vital security patches. Enable automatic updates or check for the latest version regularly.
Avoid Suspicious Links & Emails
Don’t click questionable links in texts, social media messages, and emails. These often lead to phishing sites or malware downloads.
Use Trusted WiFi Networks
Public WiFi hotspots carry a higher risk of man-in-the-middle attacks spreading malware. Use home/work networks whenever possible.
Install Antivirus Software
Top antivirus apps like Malwarebytes and Norton Mobile Security provide an extra shield against malware threats.
Don’t Jailbreak Your iPhone
Jailbreaking removes iOS protections, making your device much more vulnerable to malware infections from unauthorized apps.
Avoid Suspicious Apps
Only download apps from the official Apple App Store. Avoid unauthorized app stores and pirated apps that often contain malware.
Use Strong Passwords
Secure passwords on your iPhone, iCloud, and other linked accounts help prevent malware and hackers from accessing your information.
Monitor Usage & Behavior
Watch for unusual activity like overheating or fast battery drain that could indicate a malware infection.
While iPhones have robust defenses, several steps may be required to thoroughly check for and remove malware. Look for warning signs like battery drain and install a trusted antivirus app. Avoid suspicious links and WiFi connections that could expose you to threats. With proper precautions, you can keep your iPhone malware-free and ensure the security of your personal data against cybercriminal attacks.