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Like most iOS users, you’ve always had confidence in your iPhone’s cybersecurity features. You confidently visit various websites, download random files, and run different apps knowing that iOS malware attacks rarely occur.
However, recent debates about iOS malware have you wondering if your iPhone is really virus-proof. You might have even considered downloading antivirus apps.
Fortunately, you don’t have to expose your device to security risks just to learn about iOS malware attacks.
We also want to uncover the truth about iPhone viruses. So we asked our team to gather key insights from office Apple resources, data privacy resources, tech news, and security tips.
By the end of this piece, you’ll know how to spot and fix an infected iPhone.
Please read without skipping. We’ll tell you why you should ignore every pop-up warning or ad endorsing some type of iOS antivirus system. Otherwise, you’ll put yourself at unnecessary risk.
Let’s dive into our in-depth guide on combating iOS malware!
In this article
Signs your iPhone has been infected with malware
Before anything else, let’s answer the age-old question about whether or not iPhones get infected with malware.
Can iPhones get viruses? The short answer is yes. Although malware infections rarely occur on iOS devices, you can’t wholly dismiss the risks.
Most malware attacks fail to penetrate iPhones because iOS creates individual encrypted spaces for every program. As a result, viruses can’t spread throughout the system.
However, this security feature only protects you from en masse cyberattacks. Your device won’t get infected with the same malware publicly spread across Android devices, but hackers can still bypass your security system.
Granted, they’ll have to run more sophisticated attacks specifically geared toward you. However, they might succeed if they know enough about your identity and have reason to target your device.
But don’t lose hope. You can prevent most iOS malware attacks if you stop crooks right in their tracks.
So watch out for the following warning signs of malware infections:
1. Weird apps suddenly appearing
A common issue among hacked iPhones is they automatically shady third-party apps, which you likely won’t find on the app store. They often extract personal data through keylogging.
What’s worse is that hackers often disguise these apps under different thumbnails. You won’t even notice them.
After all, most people rarely go through all their apps.
If you see any unusual app you don’t recognize, delete it immediately. Afterward, scan your device for remaining viruses.
2. Camera light blinking nonstop
You shouldn’t ignore the blinking light on your iPhone’s front camera. It only lights up when you open the camera app to take pictures, hop on video calls, or scan QR codes.
The bulb shouldn’t blink unless the camera is running. If it does, your device might have an infected app or hidden malware using your camera without you knowing.
You must scan for viruses ASAP. Otherwise, hackers can use your front and back cameras to record you without your consent.
3. Rising phone bills
It’s also important to check your monthly phone bill. If you see records of cellular data usage, calls, or texts that you don’t recognize, your phone might have been recently compromised.
Several malware attacks can cause your bills to skyrocket (i.e., sudden app downloads, unauthorized calls). We suggest perusing your statements to trace the issue.
In instances wherein you can’t pinpoint the issue, contact your cellular network service provider. Otherwise, you’ll keep overpaying your phone bills.
4. Apps constantly crashing
iPhones don’t last forever. However, if your device suddenly starts crashing various apps out of nowhere, you might be dealing with malware attacks.
They consume excessive system resources. If viruses remain active, most of your iPhone’s battery and processing power will go toward these useless, keylogging spy apps.
5. Unwanted Calendar Events
You should check your calendar for unauthorized calendar events from time to time. You might have accidentally subscribed to a shady site or app without knowing it.
The events will trigger scheduled notifications. They’ll likely use the prompts to create fake warnings and alerts saying your iPhone needs extra security or lacks memory.
Please remember that Apple will never send warnings through calendar events.
6. Sudden lack of free memory space
You must also keep track of your iPhone’s memory. Malware attacks often install hidden files, documents, and apps—which you might not even notice.
They likely won’t affect your phone’s performance at first. However, as the malware attack goes unaddressed, it will add more viruses and eventually make your phone almost impossible to use.
We suggest fixing these issues as quickly as possible. The longer you let malware infect your device, the more time crooks have to extract various information.
7. Unusual battery performance
Apple reports that you’ll only notice your iPhone draining faster once its battery health drops to 80%—which shouldn’t happen until after 500 cycles. Your battery should be good for at least one to two years.
So if you notice your phone suddenly draining faster, consider checking it for malware infections. A virus might be wasting system resources.
Scanning your iPhone for various malware attacks
If you ask whether iPhones need malware scanning, the iOS user community will give you mixed answers.
On the one hand, we have those who trust Apple’s security features. On the other, we have those that claim every iPhone user should invest in antivirus protection.
To gain insights, we read several relevant threads in the Apple Support Community. Based on the answers we read, anti-malware scanning doesn’t work the same way on iPhones—unless you have a jailbroken device.
Again, most malware attacks can’t penetrate iOS devices. So running antivirus programs for your standard system scan will yield negligible results.
To effectively check your iPhone for malware, do the following instead:
1. Monitor your phone’s performance
Don’t shrug off crashing apps and freezing screens. iPhones have a reasonably reliable system, so they shouldn’t suddenly start malfunctioning for no reason.
Sudden issues might lead to malware infections. Spyware, hidden files, and keystroke logging apps could drain your phone’s system resources.
2. Go through your apps
Many malware attacks secretly install spyware apps. You won’t notice them if you just use the same apps daily because they’ll likely have inconspicuous thumbnails and names.
Fortunately, iOS devices prompt multiple confirmations and alerts before downloading programs outside the app store. As long as you double-check all downloads, you should be fine.
However, let’s say you tend to click prompts mindlessly. To minimize the risks of accidentally installing malware, we suggest regularly reviewing all the apps on your home screen.
Also, make sure to check your iCloud and file manager. Some hackers hide malware there since iOS users don’t check them as often.
3. Check your files and data
If your phone gets infected, you’ll notice slight changes to the confidential files, IDs, and digital documents you store. Malware attacks typically target your personal data, after all.
For instance, phishing attacks impersonating your card-issuing bank focus on stealing banking information and mobile wallet passwords. As such, you might see unusual activities in your mobile banking apps.
Unfortunately, signs of malware attacks only become evident after crooks make a move, so you’re already one step behind.
But don’t give up yet. Although your information has already been exposed, you can still mitigate potential damages by filing ID theft reports to the necessary institutions (i.e., banks, IRS, FTC).
4. Link your iPhone to an antivirus software
If you already have an antivirus plan, consider adding it to your iPhone. Cyberattacks don’t typically work on iOS devices en masse, but anti-malware apps can protect you against other schemes (i.e., phishing, social engineering, keystroke logging).
You must only use widely trusted antivirus programs like Kaspersky or Norton. It’s better to ignore all iPhone virus warnings and pop-up ads endorsing weird apps you’ve never heard of before—they’ll likely infect your device instead of protecting it.
You’ll come across these pop-up ads on shady websites. The “warnings” might sound alarming, but note that your iOS device will never send you legit alerts through browser pop-ups.
Also, manage your expectations. Antivirus programs will only protect your iOS device to an extent, so don’t blindly invest in overpriced plans.
Reasons why hackers attack iPhone users
You now know iOS cyberattacks exist, but you might wonder why anyone would want to commit these crimes. Unfortunately, crooks have several reasons to attack innocent people.
Cybercriminals attacking en masse often hope to steal as much data and information as they can from the public. They’ll likely steal these files on the dark web.
However, crooks attacking iOS users generally have more specific motives. Executing targeted attacks requires more time and effort on their part, so they can’t afford to attack too many people at once.
In most cases, they target iOS device users for:
- Financial Gain: Hackers can open credit lines, apply for credit cards, get payday loans, or even exhaust bank accounts depending on the banking information they know.
- Blackmail: Crooks might go through your personal messages and threaten to distribute confidential work information, personal data, or private photos unless you give them money.
- Revenge Porn: Hackers break into women’s accounts to steal private photos and images. Some don’t even want money. Instead, they’ll post the stolen content online solely for their perverted pleasure.
Overall, criminals want to steal your data, so rigid data privacy measures should effectively combat most attacks.
Ways how hackers bypass iOS security features
The tech community praises iOS devices for their reliable security features. Again, it runs programs in individual spaces, so viruses can’t spread throughout the device.
However, no cybersecurity system is perfect. If the iPhone of a widely known tech leader like Jeff Bezos can get hacked, your device likely has vulnerabilities as well.
Some ways hackers bypass iOS security features include:
- Phishing: As a general rule, avoid logging in from links attached to emails. Hackers steal login credentials by replicating legit login pages and loading them with keystroke logging codes.
- Brute-Force Hacking: Use strong password combinations. Otherwise, crooks might crack them using sophisticated brute-force systems designed to try millions of combinations endlessly.
- Social Engineering: It encompasses tactics that emotionally manipulate victims and trick them into divulging personal information.
- Public Networks: Hackers hijack public networks and spy on incoming traffic from unsuspecting users.
Hackers won’t hesitate to exploit any opening in your security system. You’d do well to adopt a skeptical mindset doubting everything and everyone that asks for your personal information.
Recovering from a malware-infected iPhone
Take action immediately if you believe your iPhone might have recently been compromised. Don’t just ignore the attack.
Sure, your device might be working fine now, but note that hackers have likely extracted your information and data. Trust us—they’ll exploit your identity for various crimes.
To mitigate the potential damages, we recommend:
Unsubscribing from calendar invites. Go to Settings, scroll down to Calendar, and hit the Accounts tab. There, you’ll see all accounts adding events to your Calendar app. Unsubscribe from websites that you don’t recognize and never visit them again. …
- Checking login attempts. Address all the notifications you get for failed login attempts, regardless of the platform. At least update your login credentials.
- Deleting unauthorized files and apps. Delete all the apps and files that suddenly appear, especially if they don’t come from the App Store.
- Filing ID theft reports. No, it’s not excessive to file ID theft reports after your iPhone gets hacked. Go to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) online ID theft reporting platform, share your story, and follow its data recovery plan.
- Calling your card-issuing banks. Inform your banks about what happened, review your transactions, and consider setting up a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Don’t hesitate to contact other institutions and organizations involved. For instance, if you store medical information and health insurance policies in your device, call your insurer.
Tips to protect your iOS device from malware
Almost everyone knows you should use the latest iOS versions and avoid jailbreaking your iPhone. And yes, they stop most cyberattacks.
However, if you want to bolster your security, follow these tips as well:
- Only download from the App Store. Apple verifies developers before listing their apps on the App Store.
- Use VPN apps. A VPN service provider can help you browse anonymously by encrypting your data and encapsulating your traffic under another IP address.
- Set up file deletion after failed password logins. Your iPhone should automatically delete your stored files after a set number of failed login attempts.
- Block pop-ups. Go to Settings and scroll down to Safari. Next, toggle the buttons warning you about fraudulent websites and blocking pop-ups.
Overall, avoid putting yourself in any situation that might compromise your online privacy and security.
Staying safe online as an iOS user
iOS devices run sophisticated security features that combat most cyberattacks. You won’t have to worry about common malware infections found on smartphones and tablets running other operating systems.
With that said, you still can’t overlook security altogether. As we mentioned above, criminals specifically targeting you can bypass iOS devices using social engineering tactics and advanced brute-force hacking methods.
But don’t worry—following basic cybersecurity practices already prevents most attacks. Small habits like relying less on public networks, sticking to apps found on the App Store, and using secure login credentials go a long way.
Just use your common sense!