How to Know If Your iPhone Has Malware

The world is going mobile. It’s estimated that during 2020, there will be 2.87 billion smartphone users across the globe. And over 1.3  billion iPhones have been sold since 2007.

 

Apple phones are especially popular in the United States, where they have 45% market penetration.

 

Sadly, this rise in iPhone use has led to an evolution in malware too. It’s true that malware is associated with desktop computing and, on the mobile side, Android phones. And iPhones are less at risk than their Android counterparts. But in recent years, malware has grown as a threat to the iPhone too.

 

In this article, we’ll look at how to know if your phone has become infected, what to do about it, and - maybe most importantly - how to prevent infection from ever taking place.

How do iPhones get infected?

In our previous guide to malware, we outlined some of the ways devices can become infected. An iPhone can become a victim of a malware attack in the same ways an Android device can.

 

You can make your iPhone vulnerable to malware by:

  • Clicking on links containing malware
  • Downloading a virus from an email attachment
  • Clicking on fake pop-up ads
  • Downloading a virus within an app

Jail-breaking iPhones and malware risk

A second-hand iPhone can also have risk factors, especially if it’s “jailbroken”.

 

Apple devices, including iPhones, have certain restrictions when it comes to software, particularly for downloading apps. “Jailbreaking” allows greater “root access” to the iPhone user.

 

Root access means greater administration access, allowing you to get behind the scenes to do more with your device.

 

Apple strongly recommends you never jailbreak their devices. This is because it can render your phone or tablet more vulnerable to hacking and malware. However, the main reason for jailbreaking is to access products and apps not endorsed by Apple. And, naturally, this means many of these products are not as rigorously policed or vetted.

How do I know if my iPhone has a virus?

The symptoms for a malware attack on an iPhone, again, are common to those on non-Apple devices. They include:

  • Your iPhone crashing or freezing
  • More energy or data used than normal (this might be malware running in the background)
  • New apps on your device that you didn’t personally download
  • Apps are crashing
  • Your phone is running slower than usual
  • You’re redirected to different websites you never intended to visit
  • The App Store opens without your permission

If you suspect your iPhone might be contaminated with malware, there are some steps you should take to mitigate potential damage.

What to do if your iPhone is infected with a malware

If your phone has been hacked, it might have happened via an app, your Safari browser or email. If your iPhone is operating in an unusual manner, consider the following steps:

1. Check your apps

Check if the suspicious behaviour happens when you’re using a new app. If that’s the case, then contact the developer (even if it’s via their social media) and let them know. They may not have been aware of the hack on their end, and can work towards fixing the problem with an update. If they can’t or won’t take this action, it’s probably time to uninstall that app.

2. Clear history and website data

You can do this by:

  • Going to Settings
  • Opening Safari
  • Scrolling down the dropdown menu and choosing Clear history and website data

3. Do a hard restart

Power off your phone by holding down the power button (at the top or the right of your phone, depending on model). When prompted, swipe the power button to power off. Wait a few seconds, then switch on again.

 

If this doesn’t work, you might have to go a step further - backing up, then restoring your phone.

Backing up your iPhone

It might be necessary to clear your phone, but before doing that, you should back it up.

 

Apple products are easy to backup in the iCloud. To do this, go to the following locations in this order:

  • Go to Settings on your home screen
  • Click on Your Name
  • Choose iCloud
  • Select Backup, which will regularly, automatically backup your data
  • You can also manually backup, by choosing Backup Now

Alternatively, you can connect your iPhone to a PC or Mac and follow the instructions to backup your files in a hard drive. But it’s safer to use the cloud, as it doesn’t run the risk of contaminating other devices.

Resetting your iPhone

Once you’ve backed up your phone’s content, you can erase what’s on it. Here’s how:

  • Click on the Settings shortcut on your iPhone’s home screen
  • Choose General
  • Scroll down and click on Reset
  • From there, choose Erase all content and settings

This process will take a few seconds. Once that’s happened, you’ll be given the option to Restore from backup. This will return the files and settings you previously had.

Removing malware from your iPhone

Removing files and then erasing all content should be effective, but in unusual cases you might have to go one step further.

 

If you have erased content and you’re still having issues with your iPhone, follow all of the steps for erasing all content and settings (above), but then choose Set up as a new device in the Reset menu.

 

This is more drastic, as it will delete apps and restore your phone to factory settings. But it should also rid your iPhone of any remaining malware.

 

For even greater peace of mind, we would recommend downloading security software, which can run automatic scans and removal of malware. This is especially recommended if you have a jailbroken iPhone.

How to protect an iPhone against malware

While iPhones have different operating systems to Android phones, there are still some best-practice tips to avoid malware attacks:

  • Password protect your phone. We have a comprehensive guide to passwords.
  • Don’t click on suspicious emails. Find out more in our blog on phishing scams.
  • In general, it’s good practice to only use Apple-approved apps on your iPhone

Clario - leading the world in iPhone security

Clario is the charge in the fight against malware on Apple products. You can find out more on the Clario product page and stay updated on all the latest cybersecurity trends and topics through our blog.

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