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Avast Academy Security Viruses How to Remove a Virus From an iPhone and iPad

How to Remove a Virus From an iPhone and iPad

Is your iPhone acting up? If you think there’s a virus or other malware on your iPhone or iPad, keep reading. Here, we’ll show you how to get rid of viruses on your iPhone, explain where iPhone malware comes from, and show you how to keep your iOS devices protected against iOS malware and other threats.

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    How to get rid of a virus or malware on an iPhone and iPad

    If you’ve found a malicious or suspicious app on your iPhone X or another model, it’s time to learn how to remove viruses from your iPhone. Here are the steps for iPhone malware removal

    1. Update iOS

    Many types of malware rely on vulnerabilities in outdated versions of iOS to infect your iPhone or iPad. Update iOS to close these security holes and prevent the malware from working. Apple often includes security fixes with iOS updates.

    If your iPhone is already using the most current version of iOS, try restarting your device to delete the malware from your iPhone. Otherwise, here’s how to update iOS:

    1. Open the Settings app.

      Opening the Settings app on iOS
    2. Tap General.

      Accessing the general settings in the Settings app for iOS
    3. Tap Software Update.

      Accessing the software update options in the Settings app for iOS
    4. Follow the instructions to update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS. If you have an iPhone 12, iPhone X, or another model, you may need to enter your PIN or use Face ID or Touch ID.

      The terms and conditions for iOS

    2. Restart your iPhone

    If you just updated iOS, your iPhone or iPad will restart as part of the process. If you haven’t, try restarting your phone now.

    Restarting your device is an IT trope for a reason — it often fixes the problem. Restart your phone and try a few apps to check whether the issue has been resolved.

    3. Clear your iPhone’s browsing history and data

    If your iPhone is still acting up after you restarted it, your next step is to clear the history and data from your browser. Since Safari is the stock browser on iOS, we’ll show you how to delete your browser data using Safari. You can follow a similar procedure if you use Chrome or another browser.

    1. Open the Settings app and select Safari.

      The Settings menu in iOS 12.4
    2. Select Clear History and Website Data.

      The Safari Settings menu in iOS 12.4
    3. Tap Clear History and Data. This should get rid of any malware on your iPhone.

      The "Clear History and Data" prompt in the Safari menu in iOS 12.4

    4. Remove suspicious apps from your iPhone

    Unfamiliar apps on your iPhone could be malicious — including parental control or monitoring apps that you didn’t consent to. When someone puts a parental control app on your phone without your knowledge, it becomes spyware. You should always remove spyware from your iPhone.

    You can get rid of malware from your iPhone by long-pressing the app icon and tapping Remove App. Scan your iPhone for apps you don’t recognize, then delete the malware from your iPhone.

    Removing an app from iOS

    5. Restore your iPhone to a previous iCloud backup

    If you use iCloud’s backup function, you can restore your iPhone or iPad to a previous backup state. If you restore to a backup made from before you noticed problems with your device, it should delete any malware that’s infected your iPhone.

    1. Navigate to the Settings menu and select General.

      The Settings menu in iOS 12.4
    2. Scroll to the bottom and select Reset.

      The General Settings menu in iOS 12.4
    3. Select Erase All Content and Settings.

      The Reset menu within the General Settings of iOS 12.4
    4. If you’d like to perform a last-minute backup to iCloud, select Backup Then Erase. Otherwise, select Erase Now. Follow the series of prompts and confirmations, entering your passcode as needed, to complete the procedure.

      Erasing All Content and Settings in iOS 12.4
    5. When your iPhone displays the Apps & Data screen, select Restore from iCloud Backup. You’ll be prompted to sign into iCloud. Then, you can select which iCloud backup you’d like to use.

    6. Factory reset your iPhone

    When you perform a factory reset, you restore your device to a like-new state. A factory reset wipes all your content, your apps, and your settings and configurations, then installs the latest version of iOS on your iPhone. There’s no going back from here.

    If you can’t get malware off your iPhone, a factory reset may be your only choice. The procedure is similar to the previous procedure, except that you won’t be electing to Restore from iCloud Backup. Instead, you’ll need to continue as though you have a brand-new phone.

    How to check your iPhone for viruses or malware

    You might say your iPhone has a virus, but it’s more likely to be a different type of malware. Malware on your iPhone will cause it to behave differently than usual, making it easy to tell if your phone has an infection.

    Scan your iPhone for malware by looking for these symptoms of iPhone viruses and iOS malware:

    • Apps crash unexpectedly: If your apps suddenly begin failing without any apparent cause, it might be time to scan your iPhone for malware.

    • You’re seeing unfamiliar apps: Unknown apps on your phone — apps that you didn’t download yourself, and that didn’t come pre-installed — can be a sign that you need to remove a virus or malware from your phone.

    • Pop-ups begin appearing in Safari: If you notice a sudden increase in pop-ups when using Safari, there could be malware on your iPhone.

    • Unexplained charges on your account: Unrecognized charges may indicate that malware on your iPhone has hijacked your account or financial information.

    • Your device is jailbroken: Jailbreaking is when you undo Apple’s security restrictions on your iPhone or iPad to install unapproved apps. Jailbreaking leaves your device at a much higher risk of a malware infection.

    • Your battery is draining quickly: Malware apps can use a lot of processing power, which in turn hogs your battery life. You may want to scan your iPhone 12, iPhone 11, or older models for malware.

    • Your data usage is higher than usual: Some types of malware, such as spyware, transmit massive amounts of data from your phone. Higher data usage might mean it’s time to find out how to get rid of viruses on your iPhone.

    • Your phone is too hot: Malicious apps make your iPhone work harder, which will raise its temperature. Malware is a common reason why your phone is too hot.

    How do I know if my iPhone has a virus? It likely doesn’t, because iPhone viruses don’t exist. Later in this article, we’ll explain why iPhone viruses aren’t real. But iPhones and iPads can get other types of malware, especially if you’ve jailbroken your device. The above signs can help you tell if your iPhone is infected with malware.

    As your device ages, you may notice a decrease in speed or battery life. More often than not, performance issues are caused by age or a buggy iOS app. Before considering how to remove viruses from your iPhone, try cleaning up your iPhone and boosting your speed on iOS.

    How to protect your iOS device from malware

    The steps listed above are recommended methods for deleting malware off your iPhone, but they aren’t guaranteed fixes. Instead, defend your iPhone or iPad against threats with strong internet security measures that give you ongoing protection. 

    Here are the most important actions you can take to keep security threats like malware off your iPhone:

    Turn on automatic iOS updates

    Updated software is one of your strongest defenses against iPhone malware. If you use the most current version of iOS, you’ll likely never need to learn how to remove viruses from your iPhone.

    Here’s how to turn on automatic iOS updates on your iPhone:

    1. Open the Settings app.

      Finding and opening the Settings app on iOS
    2. Scroll down and tap General.

      Opening the General settings in the Settings app for iOS
    3. Tap Software Update.

      Opening the Software Update settings in the Settings app for iOS
    4. Automatic Updates should be On by default. Tap to confirm or change your settings.

      The Software Update settings in the Settings app for iOS
    5. Toggle all settings to the right so they appear green.

      The Automatic Updates settings in the Settings app for iOS

    Your device will now download and install iOS updates as soon as they’re available, keeping malware off your iPhone or iPad.

    Turn on automatic app updates

    Just like updating iOS can protect you against iPhone malware, so can updating all your apps. Configure your iPhone or iPad to automatically update your apps to get ongoing malware protection without having to do it yourself.

    Here’s how to automatically update apps on iOS:

    1. Tap the Settings app.

      Finding the Settings app on iOS
    2. Scroll down and tap App Store.

      Opening the App Store settings in the Settings app for iOS
    3. Under Automatic Downloads, toggle App Updates to the right so the toggle is green.

      The App Store settings in the Settings app for iOS

    Download apps only from the App Store

    Apple maintains strict security standards for all the apps in the App Store. While their security isn’t 100% bulletproof, when you install apps from the App Store, you’re guaranteed the protection of Apple’s quality checks.

    Don’t jailbreak your iPhone

    Jailbreaking is a process by which you remove Apple’s built-in security measures to give you unfettered access to your phone. This lets you customize iOS beyond its default options as well as install apps from outside the App Store. But it can also leave you highly vulnerable to malware and hacking.

    Never jailbreak your phone unless you’re confident in what you’re doing, and even then, be very careful.

    Don’t open strange attachments

    Whether you receive them via email, SMS, or via your favorite secure messaging app, never download and open attachments that you aren’t expecting to get. Unknown attachments can actually be malicious and may infect your phone with malware.

    In 2018, Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked by a malicious file he received over WhatsApp from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As a result, Bezos’s phone immediately began exporting massive amounts of data. Had Bezos not opened the file, his data might still be safe.

    Use an iOS security app

    While iOS itself is relatively secure against malware, your iPhone isn’t immune from every threat. Hackers can collect your personal data over unsecured public Wi-Fi, and data breaches can leak your passwords on the dark web.

    Avast Mobile Security for iOS fills the gaps that iOS can’t cover. Secure your iPhone against Wi-Fi hackers, password leaks, and more with Avast Mobile Security for iOS.

    What exactly is an iPhone virus?

    In theory, an iPhone virus would be a nasty bit of software designed to infect iOS devices by spreading from one to another. Computer viruses borrow the resources of their host machines to replicate and propagate to other devices. But as of this article’s publication, iPhone viruses don’t exist.

    There’s a difference between “malware” and “virus”. Malware is a catch-all term for many types of malicious software, and viruses are one type of malware. Spyware, ransomware, and adware are also malware.

    Worms are another type of malware designed for mass infection, but there’s a key difference between worms and viruses: worms are self-sufficient, whereas viruses rely on host software for replication. These days, hackers carry out their attacks with a variety of malware paired with social engineering tricks.

    If your iPhone is acting strangely, it’s more likely caused by a wonky app than by malware. Before trying iPhone virus removal strategies, check your apps to make sure everything is working properly.

    Can iPhones get viruses?

    iPhone can’t get viruses, because iOS viruses are still only theoretical. It’s much more likely that you may need to delete malware from your Mac, remove viruses from a PC, or get rid of malware from your Android phone. If your iPhone says it has a virus, it’s probably something else.

    Hackers are always working hard to improve their tools and techniques. While there may not be much malware on iPhones at the moment, things may change.

    Before smartphones came along, malware was mostly a computer problem. Now that smartphone use is ubiquitous, hackers have been hard at work crafting all sorts of malware for mobile devices.

    iPhone malware and jailbreaking

    Jailbroken phones are at a much greater risk of malware infection than stock devices. When you jailbreak your iPhone, you bypass Apple’s built-in restrictions that would otherwise prevent you from installing unapproved apps and making other changes.

    Some people prefer the enhanced freedom and flexibility of a jailbroken device. But because jailbreaking subverts your phone’s security measures, it leaves you vulnerable to data theft and malware infection. If you jailbreak your device, thoroughly vet any apps before installing them.

    Can my iPad get a virus?

    No, iPads don’t get viruses. Since iPhones and iPads both run the same Apple operating system, they’re at risk from the same threats — which don’t currently include viruses. Anything that can affect an iPhone can also affect an iPad, and vice versa.

    If you do run into a problem with your iPad, the process of removing a virus from an iPad will be the same as cleaning viruses off an iPhone. As you learn how to cure your iPhone, you’ll also learn how to clear viruses from your iPad as well.

    Where do viruses come from on iOS?

    While there’s no such thing as an iPhone virus, there are other issues and threats to consider. From time to time, threats can and do slip through, especially if your iPhone is jailbroken. Since jailbreaking an iPhone removes a lot of its anti-malware safeguards, you need to be extremely careful when it comes to sourcing your apps.

    Wi-Fi connections with weak security are another potential vulnerability, since hackers can intercept your traffic. Always use a VPN to protect your devices and personal data when you’re using public Wi-Fi networks.

    Avast SecureLine for iOS protects your iPhone and encrypts your connection.A VPN protects your privacy on your iPhone.

    Avast SecureLine VPN encrypts all the traffic coming to and from your device, preventing hackers from snooping on your online activity, personal data, passwords, and credit card info. That’s why a VPN is the quickest and easiest way to turn an unsafe public Wi-Fi connection into a protected one.

    Your iPhone may still be threatened

    Learning how to remove malware from your iPhone is just the first step toward proper iPhone safety. There are plenty more threats that can affect your iPhone or iPad.

    Phishing and pharming attacks

    Two of the internet’s most enduring threats are phishing and its large-scale cousin pharming. Phishing lures victims with “bait,” such as spoofed emails, that tricks victims into revealing their sensitive personal information. Pharming takes it one step deeper by redirecting web users to simulated websites where they enter personal details.

    With the popularity of smartphones, many phishers now target mobile devices with text messages instead of traditional emails, while seeding social media platforms with fake ads.

    Meanwhile, owners of fake websites have begun adopting higher-security HTTPS encryption for their scam sites, making them even harder to detect. HTTPS phishing has now become so prevalent that the FBI issued a warning in 2019 detailing the new threat.

    Webcam hacks

    Webcam security is another area of risk. Now that most laptops and mobile devices have a front-facing camera, they’re a ripe target for attacks. In early 2019, hackers exploited a security flaw in the macOS app for video conferencing platform Zoom to spy on users via webcams.

    Apple’s own FaceTime contained a bug that could allow someone to secretly access another’s microphone and camera, listening to them and watching them without consent. The bug has since been fixed.

    Give your iPhone an extra layer of protection

    The most reliable defense against threats is not what you do after encountering one, but how you prepare. Take a proactive step toward keeping cybercriminals and their tools out of your iPhone or iPad with Avast Mobile Security for iOS.

    Avast Mobile Security scans your device for vulnerabilities, detects phishing links in real time, and alerts you if you’re exposing your data over unsecured Wi-Fi. If a cybercriminal does manage to obtain and leak any of your passwords, we’ll alert you right away, so you can quickly change your passwords and block access to your accounts before hackers can reach them.

    Avast Mobile Security blocks dangerous websites, trackers, spyware, and more.Avast Mobile Security blocks dangerous websites, trackers, spyware, and more.

    Avoid phishing scams, enjoy unsecured public Wi-Fi networks worry-free with advanced threat-detection technology, protect your photos inside the Photo Vault, and lock down your passwords with Identity Protection. Secure your iPhone today with Avast Mobile Security.