What causes viruses on iPhones?

iPhones can get viruses just like any other device, but viruses are less common on iPhones than on Android phones or computers. The main ways iPhones get infected are by installing apps from outside the App Store, jailbreaking the device, and visiting malicious websites.

How do viruses get on iPhones?

The primary way viruses end up on iPhones is through the installation of apps from outside the official App Store. Apple thoroughly vets and tests all apps in the App Store to ensure they are safe. However, if you install apps from third-party app stores or directly from the internet, you lose this protection. These apps have not been checked by Apple and may contain malicious code.

Jailbreaking an iPhone also makes it more vulnerable to viruses. Jailbreaking removes the security restrictions on iOS, allowing you to run unauthorized and unreviewed code. While many people jailbreak to unlock extra functionality, it leaves the device open to potentially harmful software.

Finally, visiting compromised websites can sometimes lead to viral infections, though this is less common. Malicious websites may contain code that attempts to exploit browser vulnerabilities or trick you into installing malware. However, thanks to the sandboxing that isolates and restricts apps, browser-based attacks have a hard time infecting the full iOS system.

What types of viruses can affect iPhones?

Here are some of the major types of malicious software that can impact iPhones:

  • Spyware – Secretly monitors activity on the device such as calls, texts, email, and location.
  • Adware – Displays intrusive advertisements and collects data on your browsing habits.
  • Ransomware – Encrypts your data and demands payment to decrypt it.
  • Banking Trojans – Designed to steal financial information and credentials.
  • Botnets – Turns your device into one of many machines used to carry out coordinated malicious activities.

Luckily, thanks to the closed nature of iOS, viruses cannot extensively infect iPhones like they can computers. The effects are typically limited unless the phone is jailbroken.

Are iPhones safe from viruses?

In general, iPhones have strong security protections making significant viral infections rare. However, no phone is 100% immune to malware. iPhones are safer than Android devices for the following reasons:

  • Closed ecosystem – Apple vets all apps, limiting malicious software.
  • App sandboxing – Apps are isolated from each other and the system.
  • Encrypted data – Filesystem encryption protects user data.
  • Secure bootchain – Prevents loading of unauthorized OS code.
  • Frequent patches – Apple quickly rolls out fixes for vulnerabilities.

As long as you stick to the official App Store, stay updated, and avoid jailbreaking, your risk of viruses on an iPhone is very low.

What are the signs of a virus on an iPhone?

Here are some potential signs that your iPhone may have malware:

  • Unexpected pop-up ads appear.
  • Apps crashing frequently.
  • Sluggish performance.
  • Unusual or excessive battery drain.
  • Unknown charges to your phone bill.
  • Apps trying to access privacy settings.
  • Camera or microphone activating unexpectedly.
  • Requests for Apple ID/password outside Apple ecosystem.

Keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary like this. It may indicate malicious software. If your iPhone is exhibiting unusual behavior, it’s a good idea to run a security scan.

How can I remove a virus from my iPhone?

If you suspect your iPhone has been infected, here are some steps you can take to remove viruses and other malware:

  1. Delete any suspicious or unknown apps.
  2. Run a trustworthy antivirus app to scan for threats.
  3. Check for unknown profiles under Settings -> General -> Profiles.
  4. Restore your iPhone to factory settings if threats persist.
  5. Change iCloud and iTunes passwords if compromised.
  6. Avoid unsecured WiFi until fully cleaned.

Resetting your iPhone to factory default settings will wipe any malware but also deletes your data. Be sure to fully back up your iPhone before resetting. This should fully eliminate any viral infection.

How can I prevent viruses on my iPhone?

The most effective way to prevent viral infections on your iPhone is to be careful about what you install. Follow these best practices:

  • Only install apps from the official Apple App Store.
  • Beware of phishing emails, texts, calls.
  • Don’t click suspicious links.
  • Use secured WiFi over public networks.
  • Keep your iPhone OS up-to-date.
  • Don’t jailbreak your device.
  • Install antivirus software.
  • Backup your iPhone regularly.
  • Only give apps required permissions.

Using strong passwords and two-factor authentication also helps protect against viruses and malware. Following general good security habits will help prevent your iPhone from becoming infected.

Can connecting to public WiFi give my iPhone a virus?

Using public WiFi does introduce some risk of your iPhone being exposed to malware. However, the risk is relatively low if you take proper precautions:

  • Avoid sensitive activities like banking or shopping on public networks.
  • Don’t download attachments or click questionable links.
  • Stick to trusted sites known to use HTTPS encryption.
  • Turn off automatic joining for new networks.
  • Use a VPN to encrypt traffic over public WiFi.

Public WiFi also facilitates some viral attacks via man-in-the-middle techniques. But as long as you stay vigilant, public networks are generally safe to use for casual browsing on your iPhone.

Can an iPhone virus transfer to my computer or other devices?

Potentially yes, an infected iPhone could spread malware to paired computers or devices in some cases via:

  • Syncing data/backups to a computer.
  • Airdrop file transfers.
  • Shared cloud storage apps.
  • Texting malicious links.
  • Emailing infected files as attachments.

To avoid cross-contamination:

  • Scan iPhone with antivirus before syncing data.
  • Only install apps on paired devices from official stores.
  • Disable automatic syncing while cleaning infection.
  • Watch for suspicious texts/emails from your contacts.

Isolating and cleaning viral infections quickly limits their ability to spread. Fully reset your iPhone to eliminate any lurking malware.

Should I use antivirus software on my iPhone?

Due to iPhones’ tighter security protections, antivirus apps are less crucial than on other platforms. However, some benefits of using antivirus software on your iPhone include:

  • Scanning for malware & removing infections.
  • Network protection against phishing/malicious sites.
  • Additional app sandboxing and permissions control.
  • Timely alerts about new iOS security threats.
  • Auditing privacy permissions from apps.
  • Web filtering against dangerous links in texts/emails.

Top antivirus apps for iOS include Norton, McAfee, Avast, and TotalAV. While not strictly necessary, antivirus software does provide useful supplemental security for your iPhone.

Antivirus Software Key Features
Norton 360 Deluxe Powerful malware detection, firewall for public WiFi, backup tool.
McAfee Total Protection Virus scanning, web filtering, app lock, camera blocker.
Avast Mobile Security Malware scanner, network security analysis, data backup.
TotalAV Antivirus Pro Virus detection, system optimizer, real-time protection.


While iPhones are generally quite secure, viruses can still occur in rare cases. Avoiding suspicious apps/links, using secured WiFi, and not jailbreaking are the best ways to guard against iPhone viral infections. Antivirus software provides added protection for identifying and removing any malware that makes it onto your device.

By being cautious about app installations, keeping software updated, and backing up regularly, you can enjoy your iPhone while avoiding digitally transmitted infections.