Can iPhones get viruses and other malware?

Dawna Roberts

Sep 29, 20235 min read

Can iPhones get viruses and other malware? Yes, here's how to stay safe: Header image

Remember the good old days when flip phones reigned supreme and the most high-tech mobile device was a Blackberry? In those simpler times, we didn’t have to worry about the dangers of carrying computer viruses around in our pockets. Since then, the cybersecurity landscape has changed dramatically. Now, anyone with a mobile device must take steps to protect themselves against the many threats — even iPhone users.

Do iPhones get viruses or other types of malware?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Despite Apple’s robust security features, iPhones can get viruses and other types of malware. And although these incidents are relatively rare, all iPhone users should know how to protect themselves by using the proper tools and resources. 

Why is it uncommon for iPhones to get viruses?

Apple tightly integrates its hardware and software, making its mobile devices less penetrable than many others on the market. However, the operating system (iOS) is not infallible, and iPhones do get viruses and malware from time to time.

Another reason why iPhones are less likely to get malware and viruses is because Apple strictly controls the apps available in the App Store. Apple scans all applications for malicious content and only allows apps it deems safe to be sold in its online store.  

Additionally, hackers typically focus on Android devices and Windows OS systems because the platforms are easier to bypass in order to infect devices. Nevertheless, some bad actors do focus on Mac and iOS users. 

Where do iPhones get viruses and other malware from?

Some of the most common ways your phone could be infected include:

  • Visiting a malicious website – Regardless of the device, you could infect your iPhone by visiting a website laced with malware or ransomware. 
  • Jailbreaking your iPhone – Some users like to exert more control over their phones and choose to “jailbreak” them. However, this process is not recommended, as it opens the device up to additional threats and undermines built-in safety precautions.
  • Downloading apps from unsafe sites – If you like downloading games and free software from third-party sites, be careful. Some of these may be malware in disguise. 
  • Connecting to FREE/unsecured Wi-Fi – Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks. When you hop on that free, open network at your local coffee shop, you may be exposing your iPhone to man-in-the-middle attacks, viruses, and spyware.
  • Not updating your iPhone – Always keep your operating system updated with the latest version. Apple constantly releases security updates and patches to prevent intrusions and help keep you safe. 
  • Allowing widespread permissions to third-party apps – Some third-party apps ask for expansive permissions to features they don’t need access to. Be cautious when offering access to your contacts, the microphone and camera, location services, and photos. 

How to check your iPhone for viruses

Thankfully, viruses and malware typically leave a trail of breadcrumbs to indicate when something is running in the background, signaling that your phone might be infected and you need to take action. If you suspect that your device might be infected, use the signs below to check for viruses in your iPhone.

Signs that your iPhone might have a virus include: 

  • Your iPhone starts overheating for no reason.
  • The iPhone’s battery drains quickly, even on light-use days.
  • Apps crash for no apparent reason.
  • You find apps on your phone that you didn’t install. 
  • Your data usage is through the roof even though you haven’t used your iPhone much.
  • The iPhone becomes unresponsive and slow when opening or closing apps. 
  • You suddenly see pop-ups or ads when browsing. 

These are just some signs that your iPhone might be tainted. If your screen suddenly goes blank for no reason, your phone locks up, or you cannot restart your device, don’t ignore it. No matter the symptom, if you suspect malware, it’s time to scan your iPhone for viruses.

Best apps for an iPhone virus scan

Despite the many threats out there, there are some great tools available to help with a quick iPhone virus scan. The following are some of the most reputable iOS antivirus apps. 

Norton Antivirus

Norton Antivirus is a trusted brand that offers iPhone users protection through ransomware, malware, and spyware detection and deletion tools. Other features include ad tracking, phishing and online scam protection, and a VPN to secure your private information. 


Avast is another antivirus company with free and paid versions of their protection suite. The program protects against viruses, malware, ransomware, and malicious websites. It even blocks phishing emails and includes browser threat detection. You can also pay extra for a VPN for private browsing. 

How to get rid of viruses on iPhone

If you discover a virus on your iPhone, you will want to get rid of it quickly before it damages or steals your information. There are a few ways you can approach the issue. 

Before taking drastic action, try some of the following simple techniques for removing a virus from your iPhone.

Update your operating system

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Tap General. 
  3. Tap Software Update. 
  4. If your iOS isn’t updated, follow the instructions to update your iPhone. 

Clear your iPhone browsing history and data

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Tap Safari.
  3. Tap Clear History and Website Data.  
  4. Tap Clear History and Data.  

Remove apps you don’t recognize

  1. Locate the app icon on your Home screen.
  2. Tap and hold your finger on the app until your app icons begin to vibrate.
  3. Tap the minus sign at the top left of the app.
  4. Confirm you want to delete it.

Restore your iPhone from a previous backup

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Tap General. 
  3. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone. 
  4. Choose Erase All Content and Settings. 
  5. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup. 

Perform a factory reset on your iPhone

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Tap General.  
  3. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.  
  4. Choose Erase All Content and Settings. 
  5. Choose Set Up as New iPhone. 

How to delete a virus on iPhone using Norton AntiVirus

If the prior steps don’t fix the problem, you can easily delete an iPhone virus using Norton AntiVirus. Here’s how to remove viruses from an iPhone with Norton.

  1. Open Norton AntiVirus on iPhone.
  2. Run Quick Scan and let it complete. 
  3. When the scan is complete, the app will ask if you want to delete the virus. Choose the yes option.

Once the virus has been removed, reboot your iPhone to clear out any cached information. Then run another scan to be sure the device is clean. 

In this modern world, you must do all you can to stay safe online, including protecting your iPhone from online threats, viruses, and malware. Fortunately, the tips and instructions contained in this article can help keep your iPhone safe and secure.  

Dawna Roberts Dawna Roberts
Dawna has spent her entire career in web dev, cybersecurity, and IT. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Adobe, Airtable, Backblaze, Cyberleaf, Lifewire, and other online publications for the past ten years.