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How to check for viruses on iPhone: A detection guide

A photograph of a confident woman checking her iPhone for viruses.

Think iPhones are immune to viruses? Think again. While iPhones are often perceived to be less vulnerable than other devices, they can be infected by malware if you’re not careful. Keep reading to learn how to check for viruses on your iPhone. Then get a dedicated iOS security app to help keep your phone malware-free and running smoothly.

Yes, despite what you may have heard,  iPhones can get viruses. While iOS security is generally strong, viruses and malware are a persistent threat, and they can appear and affect the performance of your phone in many ways. Here’s how to check for viruses on your iPhone to help keep your device protected and your activity safer online.

1. Check for unfamiliar apps

When checking your iPhone for viruses, first check for unfamiliar apps. If you see an unfamiliar app you don’t remember downloading onto your iPhone, delete it immediately, because it could contain a virus.

You can check if the app is an officially sanctioned iOS-compatible app by checking Apple’s App Store. If it’s not there, it may have come from a third-party app store and snuck in with another download. You can delete apps from your home screen by tapping and holding on the app icon, selecting Remove app, and then tapping Delete app to confirm.

Removing an app from iPhone.

2. Review your data usage

Strange spikes in data usage may indicate that your iPhone has been infected with a virus, so review how much data you’ve been using to see when the spike occurred and what caused it. iPhone viruses can consume a lot of data, eating up your data plan quickly without you even noticing.

Data usage can vary a lot, because we don’t use our phones the same way every day. But if there’s a huge, unexplainable spike in your data usage, that could mean a viruses has infected your phone and is consuming your data.

Reviewing data usage on an iPhone.

3. Monitor your power consumption

Power consumption can also fluctuate wildly if your phone’s been infected by a virus. While batteries normally degrade over time, it’s unusual for a relatively new phone's battery to drain in less than a day with regular use.

Your battery could be draining fast for a number of reasons: you left your Bluetooth or personal Hotspot on, your screen is too bright, too many background apps are running, etc. But an iPhone virus can siphon off your battery’s energy for its own nefarious purposes. Check the cause of your power consumption for other indicators that your phone may have a virus.

Monitoring battery consumption on iPhone.

4. Assess your device’s performance

You should also assess your device’s performance when checking whether it has a virus. An iPhone’s overall performance, just like battery and data usage, can be negatively impacted by a virus.

Is your iPhone running slow? Do apps take forever to load and often crash? Does your iPhone get hot? Do you get errors when trying to refresh your email or app feeds? It could just be time to update your iOS, or it could mean that your phone has a virus throttling its performance.

5. Look out for pop-ups

Pop-ups don’t just happen on desktops; they happen on mobile phones, too, especially when using free games or browsing sites. Some pop-ups aren’t just disruptive but can also be dangerous, like fake virus alerts that can actually infect your phone with a real virus if you click them. If you’re getting more pop-ups than usual, your iPhone could be infected by adware or another type of virus.

You can start by getting rid of pop-up ads on your iPhone and see if that improves the performance of your phone. But if you have a virus, removing pop-ups likely won’t get rid of it. Instead, you should use a virus removal tool to identify the virus and remove it.

6. Check if your device is jailbroken

The iPhone’s iOS operating system is a closed ecosystem, making it difficult for viruses to spread—unless your iPhone is jailbroken. Jailbreaking involves removing restrictions built into iOS devices to allow apps from outside Apple’s app store, but it can also leave your phone more vulnerable to viruses.

You can check if your phone is jailbroken by searching for hidden apps like Cydia, which can be used only on jailbroken iPhones, and for deleted default apps. If you don't see the Safari, Podcasts, or Mail apps, your iPhone may be jailbroken.

You can reverse this process by restoring your iPhone to factory settings—just make sure you back up all your data first so you don’t lose it.

Resetting an iPhone to reverse the jailbreaking process.

7. Run mobile antivirus software

The easiest and most reliable method of finding and removing iPhone malware is to use mobile antivirus software. Find a dedicated iOS compatible app from a trusted security provider such as Norton 360 Deluxe.

Trusted antivirus apps will have good ratings and reviews and, unless they’re new, they’ll show a significant number of downloads. Watch out for unknown brands and unrated apps that could be fake.

Protect your iPhone with Norton 360 Deluxe

The best way to keep your iPhone safer and more secure is to use robust antivirus protection. Norton 360 Deluxe doesn’t just detect and remove viruses; it provides real-time heuristic malware protection and defends against other online scams like fake sites and phishing attacks.

FAQs about checking your iPhone for viruses

Many users may not be aware that iPhones can get viruses. Below we answer some common questions about how viruses affect iPhones, how to get rid of them, and, most important, how to avoid them.

How do viruses affect iPhones?

Common effects of iPhone viruses include overheating, a drained battery, increased data usage, and crashing or failing apps. While it’s not unusual for some of those issues to happen periodically, if they happen a lot, or all at once, it's more likely that a virus is the cause.

How can you get rid of an iPhone virus?

There are a few different ways to get rid of an iPhone virus. First, restart your phone and update your iOS. Then try clearing your iPhone’s browsing history and data. Those simple actions will clear out your iPhone’s memory and can help get rid of viruses.

If your iPhone still has a virus after completing those steps, a deeper memory wipe may be necessary. Reset your iPhone to an earlier backup version from before it started behaving strangely. If that doesn’t work, perform a factory reset to erase all data on your phone. Before you factory reset your phone, remember to back up important data, including contact lists, photos, documents, and other files you’ll want to keep.

How can you avoid iPhone viruses?

Here are some important steps to take to help avoid viruses: download apps only from reputable providers or Apple’s App Store, enable automatic iOS updates, don’t jailbreak your phone, and use specialized mobile security software like Norton 360 Deluxe.

  • Danielle Bodnar
  • Cybersecurity writer
Danielle Bodnar is a technology writer based in Prague, with a particular interest in digital privacy. Her work explores a variety of topics, including VPNs and how to keep your online accounts secure.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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