Can iPhones get viruses? Yes, here’s what to do

A person holding an iPhone, researching if iPhones can get viruses.

Can iPhones get viruses? Yes. If your phone has a virus, you can restart it, clear your browsing history, delete suspicious apps, or do a factory reset.

One of the big selling points of iPhones is that they’re more secure than Android phones. But can iPhones get viruses? Well, it’s rare for iPhones to become infected with viruses. In fact, if you don’t tamper with your iPhone, the odds are slim that viruses will hit your smartphone.

But rare doesn't mean impossible. Read on to learn more about mobile security threats that can leave you and your iPhone vulnerable to hackers and how Norton 360 Deluxe can help make your iPhone more secure.

Can iPhones get viruses? 

Yes, iPhones can get viruses. However, iPhones have a few safeguards in place against mobile security threats, so it’s uncommon for an iPhone to get a virus.

Downloading apps from unofficial, third-party app stores is one of the biggest risks you can take with your smartphone. That’s because these apps often hide malicious software. When you download the apps to your phone, that malware can infect your device and hackers can then use this malware to take over your phone and access your sensitive personal and financial information.

If you have an iPhone, you can only download apps from the App Store. This is partly why it is so rare for iPhones to get hit with viruses—Apple vets all the apps offered for its phones.

But there is a way for users to download apps from unofficial sources. To do this, you’ll have to jailbreak your iPhone. Jailbreaking is when you use software to modify your iPhone, allowing it to take actions that Apple never intended, including downloading apps from sources other than the App Store. 

While jailbreaking your iPhone might give you more freedom in how you use your smartphone, it also opens your device to the threat of viruses.

How do you know if there’s a virus on your iPhone? 

An image covers signs an iPhone has a virus.

Though it's rare, it is possible for malware to infect your iPhone. Ask yourself these questions if you think your iPhone may have a virus:

  • Is your iPhone displaying pop-ups even when your browser is closed? This is unusual. Pop-ups should never appear when you’re not browsing the internet. If they are, this could be a sign that your phone has been infected with malware.
  • Is your iPhone overheating more often? Overheating could be caused by malware running on your iPhone. 
  • Do new apps download out of nowhere? If new apps appear that you didn’t download, this could be a sign there’s malware on your iPhone.    
  • Has your iPhone’s data usage soared? If you notice that your iPhone is suddenly consuming more data, that’s another clue that a virus might have infected your device.        

How to remove a virus from your iPhone 

If you somehow find malware on your iPhone, you can take simple steps to remove it.       

  • Turn off and restart your iPhone: Restarting your iPhone may help eliminate any problems your device is having.     
  • Clear search history: Whether you use Safari or a different browser, you can clear your search history in the Settings app. Click “Clear history and website data” and see if this helps resolve your phone issues.    
  • Delete suspicious apps: Delete any apps from your device that you don’t remember downloading. If you downloaded any apps right when your phone started showing signs of malware, delete those apps, too, just to be safe.        
  • Try an earlier backup version: If you’re still experiencing problems, you can try restoring your iPhone from an earlier backup. This version might not be infected with malware.   
  • Restore your iPhone’s factory settings: If none of these steps solve your problem, it’s time to return your iPhone to its original factory settings. Doing this can help remove hackers and potential malware from your device. Be sure, though, to save a backup of your important files because restoring your phone will delete them. To do this, go to Settings and then click on the “General” option, then “Transfer or Reset iPhone.” Hit “Reset all content and settings” to restore your iPhone to its original factory settings.

The reason why iPhone viruses are rare 

iPhone viruses are so rare because most owners can only download apps from the official App Store. This is key because infected apps are one of the more common ways for hackers to install malware on smartphones. Apple vets the apps in its App Store to make sure that they are safe. This is known as the “walled garden” approach.

The only way for iPhone owners to download apps from sources other than the App Store is to modify, or jailbreak, their devices. If you want to protect your iPhone from malicious software, it’s a good idea not to jailbreak it.

iOS, which is the Apple operating system, is also built to be harder for hackers to access.

At the same time, there are many more Android-based smartphones on the market. Because this market is so much larger, it’s a more tempting target for various types of hackers. There are fewer potential victims using iPhones, so cybercriminals tend to instead focus on the Android market for their attacks. Removing a virus from an Android is still relatively simple—just restart your phone in Safe Mode to safely remove malicious apps.

How to protect your iPhone from viruses 

An image covers strategies to protect your iPhone from viruses.

Because iPhones are so secure, you only need to take a few steps to protect your device from malware.        

  • Only download apps from the App Store: First and most foremost, if you jailbreak your iPhone, never download apps from any source other than the App Store. Apple evaluates each app in the App Store and scans them for viruses and malware. If you download an app from somewhere else, there’s no guarantee it’s been vetted to ensure it’s safe.
  • Always update to the latest iOS: It’s important to make sure you are using the most recent version of your iPhone’s operating system. To check, open your iPhone’s Settings app and click "General." Click “Software update” and make sure “Automatic updates” is turned on. This way, you won’t miss any operating system updates.        
  • Never click on links in unfamiliar emails or texts: This is the most common way scammers carry out phishing attacks, trying to trick you into giving up personal or financial information.        
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi: Never use public Wi-Fi to visit your online bank or credit card accounts without using a VPN (virtual private network). It’s notoriously easy for hackers to spy on users who are relying on public Wi-Fi. These hackers might be able to snag your passwords or login information, gaining access to your online accounts. 

If you must use public Wi-Fi, only use it for activities that don’t involve viewing personal information or typing in passwords, such as checking the weather, reading news stories, or skimming restaurant reviews.

Can iPhones get viruses from websites? 

Although iPhones are more secure than other smartphones, it’s still possible to get a virus while browsing the internet on one. You don’t need to lose sleep over the possibility your phone is infected, but it’s important to be aware it’s possible. And though it’s rare, it’s important to practice safe cyber hygiene habits to protect your device. 

You received a virus warning on your iPhone—is it real? 

An image shows how to safely close pop-ups on an iPhone to prevent viruses.

The first thing to remember if you receive a pop-up warning that your phone has a virus is not to panic. These warnings are always mobile scams, usually designed to trick you into clicking on a link. Scareware, a type of pop-up, creates a sense of urgency and frightens you into acting quickly so you share your information before you realize it’s a scam.

Apple will never use a pop-up to warn you that your iPhone is infected. Don’t click on the pop-up or call any numbers on it. Security experts warn that you shouldn't even tap on an "X" or "close" button if one of these scam alerts includes them. 

Clicking on these ads will usually send you to a phishing site. On these sites, scammers try to trick you into giving up your personal or financial information. Don’t give up any of your information, including your name, Social Security number, password, address, or two-factor authorization codes.

  • If one of these fake alerts pops up on your iPhone, don't tap on the pop-up to close it. 
  • Instead, click on the tab icon.        
  • Tap the "X" button on the tab to close the tab safely. This will make the scam virus alert disappear.        
  • Next, open your iPhone's Settings app. Tap the Safari option. Click on the “Clear history and website data” button. Check to make sure the “Block pop-ups” and “Fraudulent website warning” options are also turned on. 

Help protect your iPhone with antivirus software

We spend a lot of time on our phones, so it’s important to keep your iPhone secure from prying eyes. Norton 360 Deluxe monitors Wi-Fi networks, SMS messages, and even your device's operating system to alert you of potential risks and help you browse safely. It even sends you a report every 30 days to help you stay safe and improve your browsing habits.

FAQs about iPhone viruses

Check out our responses to your most asked questions about iPhones and viruses.

How can I tell if my iPhone has a virus?

There are a few common signs your phone might have a virus:

  • It’s overheating
  • It gets pop-ups when you’re not browsing the internet
  • New apps appear on your phone without you downloading them
  • Data usage on your phone is higher without an explanation

How do I clean my iPhone from viruses?

There are a few things you can try to remove a virus from your phone:

  • Restart your phone
  • Clear your browsing history
  • Delete suspicious apps
  • Restore to a backup
  • If all else fails, restore to factory settings
Clare Stouffer
  • Clare Stouffer
  • Gen employee
Clare Stouffer, a Gen employee, is a writer and editor for the company’s blogs. She covers various topics in cybersecurity.

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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