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How To Get Rid of Viruses on iPhones and iPads (2024)

Like any other electronic devices, iPhones and iPads are susceptible to malicious software. Learn what to do if you think your device has been compromised.

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      What Should You Do If You Think Your iPhone Is Infected? 

      Despite the persistent myth that iOS devices are invulnerable to viruses, the truth is that iPhones and iPads can be infected by malware, ransomware, spyware, and other viruses. 

      While only 4% of viruses target iOS devices, the sheer number of iPhone and iPad users means that potentially millions of devices are infected at any time [*].

      Removing a virus from your iPhone or iPad can be difficult. Unlike Android, Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to scan for viruses on iOS devices. Instead, it’s up to iPad and iPhone users to identify, detect, and remove malware on their own. 

      In this guide, we’ll explain how you can tell if your iPhone or iPad is infected with viruses and other malware, how to remove viruses from your device, and ways that you can protect yourself from hacking in the future.

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      Can iPhones and iPads Get Viruses? How To Check

      Apple goes to great lengths to secure its iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers from viruses. But while devices running iOS are more secure than those on Android or Windows operating systems, they’re not immune to malicious activity. 

      Hackers can discover and exploit iOS vulnerabilities or attack “jailbroken” devices by infecting them with unauthorized apps containing malware. 

      Some threats don’t even rely on malware — such as phishing links in emails and texts, fake websites that steal your credentials, and hacking over unsecure Wi-Fi networks. 

      If your phone is hacked, it can give scammers access to your online accounts, or even provide enough personal information to steal your identity. 

      Here are some of the warning signs indicating that your phone has been hacked:

      • Slow or strange device performance. Viruses run constantly in the background, using up your device’s computing resources. If your phone is infected, it may start running slowly, get extremely hot, make strange noises, or cause apps to crash repeatedly. 
      • Higher-than-expected data usage. Many viruses work by connecting to an external server controlled by hackers. You might notice your device is using its data connection more than usual and without any obvious cause.
      • Your microphone and camera lights are on. Spyware uses your built-in microphone and camera to track you. If the microphone or camera light on your iOS device won’t turn off, it could be due to a virus.
      • Ransomware or blackmail messages. You may receive a notification telling you that your device has been encrypted, or that a hacker has access to your sensitive data. If this happens, it means the original infection may have happened weeks or months ago.
      • Unfamiliar apps on your home screen. If a hacker gains control of your iOS device, you might find new apps downloaded automatically to your home screen. They may include spoofed versions of well-known app icons like Google Chrome. 
      • You’re locked out of your online accounts. Many hackers use viruses to gain access to your email, online banking, and social media accounts. If you’re suddenly locked out of apps or services that you know should work, your phone may have been hacked.
      • Invasive pop-up ads in Safari. Adware, spyware, and other types of malware can infect web browsers and send non-stop pop-up ads to users. Hackers partner with malicious advertising companies and get paid a small amount of money for every ad served — then bombard you with hundreds at a time.
      • Your contacts are receiving odd messages from you. Some scammers use your hacked phone or online accounts to launch phishing attacks against your contacts while pretending to be you. 

      Remember: There’s no such thing as antivirus software for iPhones or iPads. Whether your phone has been infected with malware or your accounts have been hacked, you need to act quickly to shut down scammers. For help now, consider signing up for an all-in-one digital security provider

      💡 Related: Can Someone Hack My iPhone? How To Tell & What To Do

      How To Get Rid of Viruses on iPhones and iPads

      1. Delete any suspicious apps
      2. Clear your cache and browsing history
      3. Power down and reboot your phone
      4. Update to the latest version of iOS
      5. Restore your phone to a secure backup
      6. Update your iCloud and other account passwords
      7. Make sure you’re not out of device memory

      Apple doesn’t authorize commercial antivirus apps in its App Store, so you have to clear your device of viruses and malware manually. The good news is that there are some relatively easy steps you can take right now to secure your device:

      1. Delete any suspicious apps

      Malicious apps are among the most common tools that hackers use to compromise devices. If you accidentally download apps that aren’t authorized or contain hidden malware, it may give hackers access to your sensitive data or even grant control over parts of your device.

      You can manually remove an app by holding down on its app icon on your homescreen, and then selecting Remove App followed by Delete App

      How to tell if an app is malicious:

      • Did you download it? No legitimate app downloads on its own except for official Apple Apps that come with every new version of iOS. If you don’t remember downloading a new app to your phone, delete it immediately.
      • Have other people had problems with it? Check if other people have had problems after using the app by typing “[app name] + safe/virus” into your search engine.
      Pro tip: Avoid jailbreaking your device. A “jailbroken” device can bypass Apple’s built-in security tools and download unauthorized apps from third-party developers. This is one of the most common ways to accidentally infect your iPhone or iPad with a virus.

      2. Clear your cache and browsing history

      Some viruses can live inside your iOS device’s cache. This is a part of your web browser that saves frequently-visited web pages so that you don’t have to connect to an external server every time you want to see them. If your device saves a malicious file in its cache, it may grant hackers access to your device.

      Your cache also keeps you logged in to websites that you visit frequently. After you clear history and data from your phone, you will need to log back in to these websites. Make sure you have your login credentials handy before doing this.

      Here’s how to delete your cache:

      • Open the Settings app, and then select Safari.
      • Scroll down, and tap on Clear History and Website Data.
      • Confirm by tapping again.

      3. Power off and reboot your phone

      Sometimes strange behavior on your device can be due to unresponsive apps or corrupted files. A simple reboot is often all it takes to fix these issues and restore your device back to normal. 

      As an added benefit, turning off your device can prevent hackers from continuing to access your data and online accounts. 

      Here’s how to reboot your iPhone or iPad:

      • For newer iPhones and iPads without a home button: Hold down the side button (top button on an iPad) and one of the volume buttons until the power slider appears, and turn it to “Off.”
      • For iPhones with a home button: Hold down the side button until the power slider appears, and turn it to “Off.”
      • If your iPhone or iPad is unresponsive: You can force reboot your iOS device by pressing and quickly releasing the volume up button, then the volume down button, and then holding down the side button (or top button on iPads) until the Apple logo appears [*].

      💡 Related: What Can Hackers Do With Your Phone Number? →

      4. Update to the latest version of iOS

      When Apple discovers vulnerabilities in its operating systems, it releases a new version of iOS. By keeping your iPhone or iPad updated, you can protect it from — or even remove — viruses and malware. 

      For example, if you update iOS and see that it removed an app from your device, it could mean that your phone detected a malware infection and removed it.

      How to enable auto-updates to keep your device secure:

      • Open Settings and then tap on General. Navigate to Software Update.
      • Tap on Automatic Updates, and then on Download iOS Updates.
      • Turn on Install iOS Updates. If you don’t already have the latest version, it will start upgrading now.

      5. Restore your phone from a secure backup

      Sometimes, malware infections burrow deeply within your device and are hard to root out. In this case, deleting and restoring your phone or tablet to a backup from before the infection can solve the issue. 

      Note: This step requires that you delete all of the apps and data on your device, so you’ll want to make sure that you have a backup of your data — either on the device itself, in iCloud backup storage, or on another storage device. 

      Here’s how to restore your iOS device from iCloud:

      • Go to Settings, and tap on General. 
      • Tap on Reset, and then tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
      • Your device will show a few options. Tap on Restore from iCloud Backup, and sign in with your Apple ID.
      • If you see a previous backup from before the time your device first started behaving abnormally, tap on it and restore.

      💡Related: How To Know If Your Phone Has a Virus

      6. Update your iCloud and other account passwords

      If your device is acting strangely, it could also mean that hackers have access to your iCloud or other accounts (rather than a virus infection). Whenever you notice unusual behavior, it’s a good idea to update your passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA), if possible. 

      How to keep your online accounts secure:

      • Use strong and unique passwords for each account. Choose passwords that are at least 10 characters long and include uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Make sure you’re not repeating passwords (or easy-to-guess variations of them), as hackers use automated tools that can guess common versions of known passwords — like adding “123” or “!” to the end.
      • Store your credentials in a secure password manager. These tools keep all of your passwords and sensitive information in a secure vault — providing easy access when you need them, but protecting your data from hackers. Learn more about how to use a password manager.
      • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). Apple devices can allow you to secure your accounts with a secondary measure of security — such as a one-time-use code sent to your phone, a fingerprint verification, or facial recognition. These steps make it much harder for hackers to access your accounts.

      💡 Related: Was Your Apple ID Hacked? Here’s What To Do

      7. Make sure you’re not out of device memory

      As a final check, make sure that your device isn’t running low on storage space (as this can also cause performance issues that mimic an iPhone virus or other malware infection). 

      You can check your device’s storage and memory usage and even let iOS suggest ways to optimize the device. It may point out resource-draining apps that work in the background and reduce performance.

      How to optimize storage space and memory on your iPhone or iPad:

      • Go to Settings and tap on General.
      • Tap on Device Storage. You may see a list of recommendations for freeing up storage space on your device. You’ll also see a list of installed apps along with the amount of space each one uses.
      • Expand the detailed view on each app to learn more about what they are doing, and reduce their overall usage of storage space.
      The bottom line: Digital security doesn’t have to be difficult. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from hackers, scammers, and identity thieves is to safeguard your devices with comprehensive, proactive digital security. Try Aura for free and see if it’s right for you.

      Will a Factory Reset Get Rid of Viruses on Your iPhone? 

      Not always. While resetting your iPhone or iPad may clear out most viruses and other problems, the most sophisticated malware can survive a full factory reset. 

      Even worse, restoring your device to factory settings won’t help if hackers have already gained access to your accounts — as they’ll continue to be able to access them. You’ll also lose any apps, data, contacts, messages, and pictures that you haven’t saved in a secure backup. 

      If you opt for a factory reset, make sure you’re restoring your device to a backup that you made before the infection occurred. 

      💡 Related: Why a Factory Reset Won't Get Rid Of All Viruses (Do This Instead) →

      How To Protect Your iPhone and iPad From Viruses

      With researchers discovering more than 30 million new malware variants online every month, it’s important that you protect your iOS devices from malware[*]. But viruses are only part of the problem.  

      Modern hackers are more interested in accessing your online accounts to find sensitive data such as your credit card details, Social Security number (SSN), and other information that they can use to empty your bank account or steal your identity

      While keeping your devices updated is the most effective way to stay safe, practicing good cyber hygiene can prevent scammers from hacking your accounts and putting you and your family at risk. 

      Here are some tips to keep your iPhone or iPad safe from online threats:

      • Make sure that your device has a strong passcode, and auto-lock is enabled. A weak passcode like “0000” will let anyone who picks up your phone gain access to your private data. Use a complex passcode, or use your phone’s biometric security settings to keep your data safe.
      • Enable 2FA on every account that supports it. All banks and financial institutions support two-factor authentication. This requires you to input an additional code before logging in to your account, making it harder for hackers to impersonate you.
      • Always use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can spoof public Wi-Fi networks to intercept any data you send. Using an encrypted iPhone VPN prevents scammers from learning your passwords when you log on to sensitive accounts in public places (such as restaurants, airports, and hotels).
      • Ignore suspicious text messages and emails. Don’t reply to urgent messages that seek to alarm you about your bank account, tax returns, or Social Security information. Legitimate institutions never send suspicious links (with demands that you click on them) in SMS messages or emails. 
      • Enable the Find my iPhone app. You can track your iPhone’s location anywhere in the world by using Find my iPhone. To do this, you also need to have the Find My app installed on a separate device. This also lets you protect your data by remotely wiping your device if it gets stolen.

      Finally, consider signing up for Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution. Aura protects your iPhone, iPad, computer, and personal information from hacking, scams, and other online threats. 

      Every Aura account includes advanced digital security tools (such as antivirus software, a VPN, password manager, and spam call blocker), award-winning identity theft and fraud protection, 24/7 support from a dedicated team of U.S.-based White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance for your entire family. 

      Shut down hackers before it’s too late. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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