IPhones have a stellar reputation when it comes to security. The idea of somebody's iPhone having a virus seems almost alien, and many people think that iPhones can't get viruses at all. In reality, things are a little more complicated than this, and in some situations, iPhones can get viruses. However, the odds of your iPhone becoming infected are extremely low, especially if you don't "jailbreak" your handset and only install apps from the official App Store.
Can iPhones Get Viruses?
IPhones usually don't get viruses, but they can in some rare situations. Technically, "virus" describes a bit of code that infiltrates another program, and "worm" (or more broadly, malware) describes a complete program with a malicious intent. The most commonly seen iPhone viruses are worms, and they specifically target iPhones that have been jailbroken. The jailbreaking process allows users to install apps from places other than the official App Store.
The App Store contains only apps that have been reviewed by Apple, and apps on iOS typically can't communicate with other apps for a malware program to cause a problem for the user. This explains why iPhone viruses are rare. If you jailbreak your iPhone, you lose the protection afforded by Apple, and you may download a malicious app from somewhere other than the App Store. Aside from this, there have been a few cases where otherwise aboveboard apps have had some virus code inserted into them or been made with developer tools that have themselves been compromised. However, apps with such issues rarely make it onto the App Store.
In short, iPhones can get viruses, but it is highly unlikely to occur unless you have jailbroken your iPhone.
Are Phone Viruses Real?
The term "virus" has a technical definition – one that rarely applies in a strict sense to Android phones or iPhones. A general term like "malware" more closely describes what most people mean when they say "virus." The term describes a piece of malicious software that can steal information and passwords, control your device, apply false charges to your account, and track your location. Although they aren't common, phone viruses that are technically malware are real.
How to Remove a Virus From an iPhone
Removing a virus from your iPhone usually involves identifying the specific app that is causing the problem and either removing or updating it. Identify the problem by observing when the problem started and when it manifests. If you've jailbroken your iPhone and have downloaded an app from an unofficial source, this app is the most likely source of the problem. However, if the problem arises when one specific app runs and not on other occasions, regardless of the source of the app, removing the app or updating it will likely solve the problem. Most apps that have been compromised take you to a webpage in Safari or open the App Store without your permission.
When you've identified the app that is causing a problem, solve it by removing or updating the app. If it's an app from the official App Store, check to see if there are recent updates designed to rectify the issue and check the developer's website or social media accounts to see if the problem is known. If it's an unofficial app or you can't update it, uninstall the app and see if the problem disappears.
If you are redirected to a webpage by the virus, clearing the history and data from Safari can solve the problem. From "Settings," choose "Safari," and then select "Clear History and Website Data." Tap "Clear History and Data" from the window that pops up, and you're done.
If you still have problems, restart your phone. Simply power off and power back on, or perform a force reset by pressing and holding both the "Sleep/Wake" and "Home" buttons (for iPhone 6S and earlier) or pressing and holding the "Sleep/Wake" and "Volume Down" buttons in later models until the Apple logo appears. If this doesn't work, you can restore your iPhone from a backup you've created, or – in the worst-case scenario – perform a complete factory reset on your device.
How to Put Your iPhone in Safe Mode
If you're having difficulty removing apps, safe mode boots your iPhone without any third-party services or apps running and can enable you to uninstall or deactivate the problematic program. To put your iPhone in safe mode, perform a force restart by pressing and holding "Sleep/Wake" and "Home" on older models or "Sleep/Wake" and "Volume Down" on models after the 6S. When the Apple logo appears, release the buttons you're holding and press and hold the "Volume Up" button until your iPhone notifies you that it is running in safe mode.
From here, you can remove any apps you suspect are causing your issue. Exit safe mode using another force restart.
- Macworld: Do iPhones Get Viruses?
- iPhone Life: Can iPhones Get Viruses? How to Detect & Remove Malware & Viruses From Your iPhone
- Macworld: How to Remove a Virus From an iPhone or iPad
- iMyFone: How to Enable or Disable Your iPhone Safe Mode
- Smartphonetics: iPhone X/iPhone 10: Turn Safe Mode On and Off
- Digital Trends: How to Reset Your iPhone
- Dragon Blogger: How to Use Recovery Mode and Safe Mode on the iPhone 6