Can you remove viruses on iPhone?

iPhones, like all smartphones, are vulnerable to certain viruses and malware. However, iPhones tend to be more secure than Android phones due to Apple’s closed ecosystem and stringent app review process. While rare, it is possible for iPhones to become infected if users are not careful about what they download and install. The good news is there are steps iPhone users can take to remove viruses and malicious software.

How do viruses get on an iPhone?

There are a few common ways viruses find their way onto iPhones:

  • Installing apps from outside the App Store – The App Store screens all apps for malware. Downloading from unverified sources bypasses this security measure, increasing the risk of installing infected apps.
  • Phishing attacks – Phishing uses fraudulent links or attachments to trick users into downloading malicious software. Phishing attacks often try to mimic legitimate apps, sites, or messages.
  • Infected files – Opening infected files from unreliable sources can introduce malware. This includes files transferred via AirDrop as well as downloads from the internet.
  • Outdated software – Failing to update to the latest iOS version leaves iPhones vulnerable to known security issues that have been addressed in updates.
  • Jailbreaking – Jailbreaking removes the security barriers in iOS, allowing unverified apps to be installed. However, malware for jailbroken devices is rare.

Practicing good security habits goes a long way toward keeping viruses off iPhones. But sometimes threats slip through, putting devices at risk.

Can iPhones get viruses?

Yes, iPhones are susceptible to malware just like any device. However, there are far fewer known viruses and threats targeting iOS compared to other mobile operating systems.

Apple’s tight control over the iOS ecosystem makes it extremely difficult for malicious actors to distribute infected apps through official channels like the App Store. Each app submitted to the App Store undergoes extensive testing and code analysis before approval. Apps must also request user permissions to access sensitive data, functions, and hardware. This curation process prevents most malware from reaching iPhones.

Additionally, Apple’s mandatory code signing and on-device security features offer roadblocks at multiple levels to prevent viruses from executing. iOS sandboxing isolates apps from each other and the system while encryption safeguards sensitive data.

As a result, iPhone viruses encounter many hurdles compared to more open platforms like Android. While not immune, iPhones have historically faced limited malware threats. However, users should still exercise caution as social engineering and emerging attack vectors can bypass iOS defenses.

What are common iPhone viruses and malware?

Here are some examples of viruses and malware that have affected iPhones over the years:


Pegasus is powerful spyware developed by the NSO Group. It exploited weaknesses in iOS to infiltrate devices and steal personal data. Apple patched the vulnerabilities used by Pegasus in 2016.


XcodeGhost infiltrated Apple’s developer tools in 2015, infecting thousands of apps on the App Store. It collected information from devices running the trojanized apps.


Active in 2015, KeyRaider stole over 225,000 Apple ID usernames and passwords. The malware targeted jailbroken iPhones.


WireLurker emerged in 2014 as one of the first pieces of malware able to jump from infected OS X computers to paired iPhones. It was capable of stealing information from messaging apps.

Find and Call

Masquerading as a tool for finding contacts, this malware uploaded iOS devices’ address books to malicious servers. It slipped through Apple’s review process to appear on the App Store briefly in 2015.


ZergHelper was a malicious adware tool that abused enterprise credentials to distribute itself through third-party app stores. It could download additional malicious payloads onto jailbroken iPhones.


One of the first iOS malware specimens, Jekyll posed as a harmless app to make it onto devices. Once launched, it was able to take control of key functions. Apple patched its distribution method in 2013.


Ikee hijacked jailbroken iPhones in 2009 to hold devices for ransom, demanding $5 to restore functionality. It demonstrated early on that iOS was not immune to viruses.

How can I tell if my iPhone has a virus?

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

  • Sluggish performance – Viruses often create lag and slowness by overusing system resources.
  • Excessive heating – Malware straining your iPhone’s CPU can cause it to run hot.
  • Shortened battery life – Malicious activities like cryptocurrency mining will drain batteries abnormally fast.
  • Unexpected pop-up ads – Adware and browser hijackers cause frequent pop-up and redirect ads.
  • High data usage – Some viruses silently download large amounts of data or distribute spam from your device.
  • Unknown charges – Malware might text premium numbers, place calls, or make purchases without permission.
  • Suspicious app activity – Apps crashing, installing without consent, or displaying intrusive notifications may indicate infection.

Pay attention to any anomalous behaviors on your iPhone. While occasional system hiccups are normal, consistent degraded performance could stem from malware. Be especially wary if multiple symptoms appear simultaneously.

How to check for viruses on iPhone

Here are the steps to manually look for signs of infection on an iPhone:

  1. Check installed apps – Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and look for any unknown or suspicious apps. Also check for unexpectedly large app data usage.
  2. Review app permissions – Look for apps with excessive permissions they shouldn’t need. For example, a calculator app requesting location access could be suspicious.
  3. Examine browser bookmarks and settings – See if any unusual bookmarks, home pages, or search engine defaults have been added.
  4. Scan network activity – On the Settings > General > VPN & Device Management screen, look for any unexpected or unknown profiles that may be indicators of malware.
  5. Check Apple ID and iCloud activity – Review account activity for signs of unauthorized logins, password resets, or new device registrations.
  6. Run antivirus software – Download a trusted iOS antivirus app to perform a scan. This can detect and remove known threats.

Carefully inspecting your iPhone’s apps, settings, and account activity can uncover viruses and other malicious activity. Consider resetting your device to factory defaults if infections are detected.

How to get rid of viruses on iPhone

Here are reliable methods to remove viruses and other malware from iPhones:

Delete infected or suspicious apps

If antivirus software or manual inspection uncovers any questionable apps, delete them immediately. To uninstall:

  1. Go to the Home Screen and find the infected app.
  2. Touch and hold the app icon until the icons start shaking.
  3. Tap the “X” that appears on the corner of the app to delete it.
  4. Tap Delete to confirm removal of the app.

This will get rid of any malicious code contained in the app.

Reset network settings

Some malware infects devices by manipulating network components like DNS and proxy servers. Reset all network settings to undo this damage:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset.
  2. Tap Reset Network Settings and confirm.

Resetting will wipe all Wi-Fi passwords, VPN configurations, and other network details. But it also eliminates any malicious network changes made by viruses.

Restore your iPhone

For severe infections, a full factory reset may be necessary:

  1. Back up your iPhone data via iCloud or iTunes.
  2. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  3. Tap through the prompts to fully erase and restore your device.
  4. When the reset completes, restore your data from the backup.

This will wipe your device and overwrite any viruses lurking in the system. Just be sure to restore a clean backup not infected with malware.

Update to the latest iOS version

Apple issues regular iOS updates that patch security flaws used by malware. Keep your iPhone’s OS up to date:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. Download and install any available updates.

Updating closes vulnerabilities that viruses leverage to infect devices. It helps prevent future attacks.

Only download apps from the App Store

The App Store’s stringent vetting process filters out most malicious apps. Avoid third-party app stores or pirated apps, which are much higher risk. Jailbreaking also opens devices to malware.

Use trustworthy antivirus software

Antivirus apps like AVG Antivirus and Avast Security can detect and remove malware from iPhones. Perform periodic scans after removing a virus to check for any lingering threats.

Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of account security, requiring you to enter a temporary code during logins. Enable it on your Apple ID to prevent malware from accessing your account.

Can you get a virus from Safari?

Yes, it is possible for iPhones to become infected by simply visiting a malicious website in Safari. Here are some common ways viruses spread through the Safari browser:

Malicious ads and pop-ups

Viruses can hide behind online ads and pop-ups. Clicking them can infect your iPhone with adware or other malcode. Avoid clicking ads and pop-ups in Safari.

Social engineering and phishing

Phishing sites masquerade as trustworthy pages to trick users into installing viruses. Fake login prompts are a common technique. Double check URLs and use trusted bookmarks.

Compromised sites

Otherwise safe sites can become temporarily compromised, serving viruses to visitors. Avoid entering sensitive information on sites with certificate errors indicating possible breaches.

Drive-by downloads

Merely visiting some malicious sites can push malware onto your device. Safari offers protections against this, but outdated browsers are more vulnerable.

Unsecured connections

Accessing sites over unsecured HTTP instead of HTTPS exposes traffic to man-in-the-middle attacks that inject viruses. Use HTTPS wherever possible.

To reduce the chances of infection, update Safari regularly, avoid suspicious sites and downloads, use an ad blocker, and exercise general caution online just as you would on a computer.

Can you get a virus from App Store apps?

Apple thoroughly vets every app submitted to the App Store, so it is highly unlikely for a blatantly malicious app to end up available for download. However, there are still some rare scenarios where App Store apps can pose risks:

Well-disguised malware

Sophisticated malware with novel techniques specifically designed to sneak past Apple’s defenses could potentially still infiltrate the App Store. XcodeGhost in 2015 was one such example.

Legitimate apps turned malicious

Some apps begin safe but later update with malware-ridden code. Developers can sneak in viruses after approval through infected SDKs and libraries.

Trojanized apps

Seemingly legitimate apps using official developer credentials can hide malicious functionality. For example, malware could be triggered only on a certain date.

Compromised developer accounts

Hacked developer accounts let attackers secretly add malware to otherwise trusted apps. They can then submit the virus-laden updates for approval.

Accidental vulnerabilities

Well-meaning apps sometimes contain unintentional vulnerabilities that malware developers take advantage of before patches are issued.

So while the risk is low, it’s not zero. Exercise some due caution with new apps, watch out for odd permission requests or behaviors, keep apps updated, and run periodic malware scans.

How can I increase iPhone security?

Here are some ways you can enhance your iPhone’s security to better protect against viruses and malware:

  • Only download apps from the official App Store.
  • Think carefully before granting app permissions.
  • Avoid opening links and attachments from unknown sources.
  • Use a VPN to protect traffic on public Wi-Fi.
  • Install iOS updates right away to receive security fixes.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on accounts.
  • Set a secure passcode and enable Face ID or Touch ID.
  • Back up your iPhone regularly in case you need to wipe it.
  • Use antivirus software and run occasional malware scans.

Building good security habits goes a long way toward keeping your iPhone and data safe. Avoid jailbreaking and only install apps from trusted sources. Using antivirus, updating software, and enabling authentication protections also helps keep viruses at bay.

Can you get a virus from text message?

You cannot get a traditional virus directly from a text message on iPhone. But text messages can deliver links or prompt you to download files that may contain malware capable of infecting your device.

Here are some examples:

Phishing links

Text messages can include malicious links to phishing sites designed to steal information or install malware. Never click unfamiliar links in texts.

Infected files

Attackers may text links to infected files or documents that can compromise your device if opened. Download files only from trusted sources.

Social engineering

Texts may try to trick you through social engineering into downloading malware or granting the sender remote access. Use caution with unexpected texts.

SMS attacks

There are exploits targeting vulnerabilities in iPhone’s handling of SMS messages. Keep your OS patched against known issues.

So while text messages alone won’t directly infect your iPhone, they can enable attackers to distribute malware by getting users to click dangerous links, share sensitive data, or download infected files. Use common sense precautions when receiving texts with attachments or links.

Do I need antivirus for iPhone?

Due to Apple’s tight control over app distribution on iOS, antivirus software is less crucial for iPhones than on other platforms. However, there are still some benefits to using antivirus apps on your iPhone:

  • Extra malware protection – Antivirus can detect threats other security layers miss.
  • Network monitoring – Some antivirus apps scan network traffic and block suspicious sites.
  • App vulnerability checks – Analyzes apps for any weaknesses malware could exploit.
  • Jailbreak detection – Alerts if a jailbroken iPhone is more vulnerable.
  • External device scanning – Checks connected devices like USB drives for viruses.
  • Activity monitoring – Tracks functions like location access to spot foul play.
  • Remote wipe – Lets you remotely erase data if your iPhone is lost or stolen.

Prominent options like Norton and McAfee offer iOS antivirus apps incorporating these protective capabilities. So antivirus can provide an extra layer of defense despite Apple’s safeguards. It provides more comprehensive monitoring and analysis of potential threats.

However, antivirus apps also have downsides like performance impact, battery drain, and cost. They are most useful for high-risk users who regularly download from unverified sources or disable default security features like app sandboxing through jailbreaking. But normal users are unlikely to encounter widespread threats that would justify the trade-offs of constant antivirus scans.


While iPhones face fewer viruses and malware threats compared to other platforms, they are still susceptible in certain scenarios. Risks are mainly posed by untrustworthy apps, infected files, phishing attempts, and social engineering through SMS. To keep your iPhone secure:

  • Only download apps from the official App Store.
  • Think twice before opening links and attachments, even from known contacts.
  • Keep your device updated with the latest iOS version.
  • Use two-factor authentication and strong passcodes.
  • Consider specialized iOS antivirus software for enhanced protection.

Regularly scanning for viruses, avoiding unauthorized app installs, and exercising caution around unknown links and files will keep your iPhone safe from most malware threats. But ultimately, iPhones offer robust enough defenses through sandboxing, encrypted storage, and App Store review that antivirus is not mandatory for the average user with good security habits.