How to Know if Malware is on Your iPhone

iPhones are typically thought to be safer and more secure than Android phones, but these safety stats often don’t show the whole picture. There are far more Android devices in the wild than there are iPhones, and Android phone manufacturers can install their software which introduces security vulnerabilities. iPhones and their software are controlled by Apple, making it easier to patch glaring vulnerabilities. But, the fewer devices and greater control don’t make iPhones immune to malware. Instead, there have been instances where vulnerabilities and exploits have been discovered on iPhones or Safari, leaving millions of iPhone owners vulnerable to attacks.

To determine if your iPhone has been infected with malware, keep reading.

How do I Check for Malware on my iPhone?

The best way to check for malware on your iPhone is to assess your phone’s storage. Look at your photos and videos and then determine if your storage is where it should be; if it’s lower than it should be, your phone likely has a virus.

Another way to determine if your iPhone has malware is to consider if you’ve ever had it jailbroken or downloaded apps outside the Appstore, then check your phone for apps you didn’t download. Unfamiliar apps are a sign you have malware.

If your phone overheats or your battery is going quickly, these are also signs of malware.

Alternatively, you could download an antivirus and scan your iPhone for threats.

Can iPhone be Infected With Malware?

The short answer is yes, but it requires you to do something. iPhones are isolated from other ecosystems. Every app on the AppStore has to be vetted by Apple, which means most apps you download won’t have malware. 

But, if you download apps from somewhere other than the AppStore or use public wifi, you place yourself at risk of getting malware. You’re also at risk of getting malware by visiting that have been compromised.

How to Get Rid of Malware on iPhone

If you discover you have malware on your iPhone, don’t be alarmed, you can remove it by following five easy steps.

Step 1: Update Your iPhone

Start by updating your phone. Often, there are vulnerabilities in older software that cybercriminals can exploit. Because of this, Apple frequently patches vulnerabilities.

To update your iPhone, navigate to settings, select general, and then software update.

Step 2: Uninstall Suspicious Apps

Typically, only jailbroken phones download suspicious apps or spyware. But not all apps will show up as icons. Some apps are hidden to go undetected.

To find and delete these apps, go to App Store and navigate to purchased apps. Search for apps you don’t remember downloading, and then delete those. You should also delete apps you downloaded from outside the App Store.

Then, select “Not on this iPhone” to view hidden apps and deselect permissions to all these apps.

Step 3: Clear Your Web Browser Data and Browsing History

If you unintentionally got malware from a compromised website, clearing your browsing history will ensure you aren’t unintentionally downloading malware again.

Step 4: Backup Your Data

The final step requires you to restore your phone’s factory settings, which would require you to back up your data to ensure you won’t lose any vital information.

Step 5: Factory Reset Your Device

To clear your iPhone of any malware, conduct a factory reset. The phone should reset to its original — malware-free — version. 

How Likely is it for an iPhone to Get Malware?

It is unlikely for an iPhone to get malware — that is, if you’re the typical user.

iPhones have all these protections to help secure the phone from threats. The primary protections include phones only being allowed to download apps from the AppStore — which has a rigorous screening process for apps — and sandboxing apps. Sandboxed apps do not interact with other apps or the phone’s operating system. This limits the environments in which certain codes can execute.

Although these are the protections most iPhone users access, which makes it rare that iPhones are infected with malware, there are exceptions to this rule. Users who jailbreak their iPhones give up these protections. Therefore, malware is common for jailbroken iPhones, and almost all iPhones that have been jailbroken will have malware.

How to Find Hidden Malware on iPhone

Not all malware is going to show up as an icon. Instead, most malware is hidden to ensure it can go undetected. To find hidden malware, follow the steps below.

Visit The App Store

To find hidden apps, visit the App Store.

Select Purchased

Select purchased to show a list of all the apps you’ve downloaded.

Navigate to “Not on this iPhone.”

To find apps no longer on your device, select “Not on this iPhone” to see a list of previously deleted — or hidden — apps.

If you’ve jailbroken your phone, use Safari and enter “localhost: 8888” or “localhost: 4444” to get a list of apps downloaded through Cydia.

If none of these work, consider getting reputable anti-malware and conduct a scan on your device to locate and remove hidden malware.

Can an iPhone Get a Virus From Safari?    

Safari can be a gateway to viruses similar to any other web browser. The myth that Apple and, as a result, Safari is safer than Android and its web browsers is a myth that has been disproven by researchers.

However, getting a virus from Safari requires two things: that your phone has been jailbroken, and your operating system isn’t updated.

If that is the case, the website you visit could download malware onto your iPhone. For that reason, you should only visit secure websites.

Potential Signs of Malware on Your iPhone

If you’re unsure whether your iPhone has malware, you can look for the seven common signs your phone is infected. Your phone doesn’t have to have all seven signs to be infected; instead, one or two is an indication malware is present, and more than two means your iPhone has malware.

Excessive Ads Popping UpAdware is one of the most common types of malware because it’s an easy way for the developers of such apps to make money. If you notice a rise in ad placement even after installing an adblocker or when using apps that didn’t show you ads before, your iPhone is likely to have been infected with malware.

  • Apps Crashing Frequently

Malware — especially attacks like crypto-jacking — is memory-intensive. It can use a significant amount of your phone’s RAM to complete several tasks while running in the background. Most iPhone users will check to see what is using their RAM, but often these apps will disguise themselves as a system app. 

Nevertheless, if your apps start crashing frequently — even if you have an older iPhone — it’s likely malware is the cause.

  • Increase in Data Usage

If you notice your mobile data on whichever plan you have is going quicker than usual, malware is probably to blame. Besides crypto-jacking — which uses your phone’s resources to mine cryptocurrency — there’s also a host of other ways malware uses data. These other ways typically revolve around ads — either the malware will inundate your phone with ads, or it carries out unsolicited ad clicks in the background, earning the cybercriminals easy cash.

  • Battery Draining Quickly

With all the stealthy background activity caused by malware, your battery will start to drain quickly. Although iPhones have notoriously shorter battery life than Androids, if your phone’s battery is frequently dying or you need to use a power bank to keep your phone going, you’ve stumbled on a tell-tale sign of malware.

  • Apps You Didn’t Download Appearing

Malware typically compromises your system and uses vulnerabilities to its advantage. Some malware is developed for the sole purpose of ensuring other — more unscrupulous apps — can piggyback off of it and find its way onto your phone. The initial app may only have adware, but subsequent apps could contain spyware, crypto-malware, or even ransomware.

If malware isn’t introducing other apps to your phone, it may have compromised your phone to the extent that you could end up downloading an app just by browsing the web.

  • Phone Overheating

For the same reasons malware could result in your phone’s battery draining quickly, it could cause your phone to overheat. Malware’s background activity is intensive and can cause your phone to expend lots of energy in a short period, resulting in it overheating.

Of course, before blaming malware, consider the temperature and your usage. If you can rule out both, and your phone is overheating more than other iPhone users in your circle, you likely have malware.

  • Excessively High Phone Bill

Malware can use your phone to text friends and contacts. Typically, these texts will include links to get the malware to spread. Therefore, a tell-tale sign of malware is a higher-than-average phone bill.

You can see if “you” have been sending more text messages by reviewing the SMS tab beneath your phone bill and comparing it to your text message history. 

How to Protect Your iPhone from Malware

If you don’t feel like dealing with the seven signs above or the host of other ways malware affects iPhones, you should pay special attention to how you can protect your iPhone from malware. These tips should maintain your phone’s protection and ensure you’re part of the millions of iPhone users who will never experience malware.

Don’t Jailbreak Your iPhone

If you don’t know what jailbreaking is, this shouldn’t be a concern unless you’ve jailbroken your phone without realizing it.

If your phone has or had any of the following apps, it has been jailbroken:

  • Cydia
  • Altstore
  • Unc0ver

If you have jailbroken your phone, you’ll have to uninstall those apps and unjailbreak your phone, resetting it to the original factory settings.

Restrict App Permissions

Malware will often need access to different functions on your phone to carry out their malicious intentions. By limiting each app’s permissions, you can limit their harm. When restricting permissions, focus on apps that want to access data that isn’t relevant to their functions.

Avoid Using Public Wifi

When you use public wifi, you give cybercriminals unlimited access to your iPhone. Not only can cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities in public wifi to gain access to your phone, but you could also unknowingly be sharing all the information on — and access to — your phone. Networks, like wifi, can allow any device on it the ability to transfer and access information on it. When you link to compromised public wifi, a cybercriminal can share malware with your device without your permission.

Ensure You Have the Latest Updates

The best way to protect your iPhone from malware is to ensure you always have the latest OS and the most recent updates for each app on your phone. The latest updates typically are more secure than older versions, which may have bugs or vulnerabilities cybercriminals have learned to exploit.

Use an Antivirus

If you follow all the other rules to protect your iPhone, you won’t need an antivirus. Since iPhones are isolated from external threats, the possibility of getting a virus is almost nonexistent. But, if you want extra protection, jailbroken your iPhone before, or access public wifi, you should use antivirus. Antivirus will scan your phone for threats and remove the ones it finds.

How Does Malware Affect iPhones?

There are four primary ways malware can affect your iPhone. These four attacks have varying levels of severity and will affect your phone — and in some cases, your life — differently.


Spyware’s purpose is to spy on you. By that definition, it takes place in the background. Cybercriminals can use their microphone to eavesdrop on conversations. Access your screen and apps to see your texts, browsing history, images, videos, and banking information. They can use your selfie or primary camera to spy on you, even when you’re not using your phone. Then, cybercriminals may sell valuable information like your banking data to others or use the data gathered to get the money themselves, either by accessing your accounts and transferring unsolicited amounts or blackmailing you.


Adware is easy, quick cash for cybercriminals which is why it’s the most common kind of malware on any phone. Adware affects your phone by displaying numerous ads or getting unsolicited clicks in the background. This slows your device down, uses more data, and causes your phone to crash or overheat.


As cryptocurrency has become popular, cybercriminals are trying to use available memory on any phone or PC they can hack to carry out crypto mining. Since iPhones have a surplus of RAM, they make the best targets.

Your phone will also overheat, slow down, burn through the battery life, and start crashing as a result.


Ransomware works in the background and the foreground. In the background, it acts quickly to encrypt all your files, blocking your access to them. In the foreground, it gives instructions on regaining access to your files by paying a ransom.

Because ransomware infects your files, it essentially makes your iPhone useless.

Unfortunately, iPhones — like any device that accesses the internet — can fall victim to malware. To ensure your phone isn’t part of those stats, be careful and consider downloading an antivirus for extra protection.

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