How to Remove Malware from Your iPhone

Understand the warning signs of a virus and how to remove malware from your iPhone.
Andrew Adams, Author
Melinda Sineriz, Editor
Last updated Jul 21, 2022

Although many people believe that an iPhone or iPad is more secure than an Android device, it’s still possible for an Apple device to get a virus, which could slow your phone’s overall performance, use more data, and put your personal information in jeopardy.

Although App Store apps are subject to Apple’s high security standards, your iPhone is capable of getting a virus from sources such as a third-party app or a suspicious email or link. If you think your phone may be infected with a virus, there are simple ways to remedy the issue and get your iPhone back up and running.

In this article
How to remove malware from an iPhone
How to protect your iPhone from malware
FAQs
Bottom line

How to remove malware from an iPhone

There are several signs that your phone may be infected, including reduced battery life, decreased operating speeds, higher than normal data charges, unexpected pop-ups, or suspicious apps or activity.

If your phone is infected with spyware or another virus, you can remove it using these steps.

Restart your iPhone

Your first step to removing the virus from your iPhone is to restart the device.

Depending on the type of iPhone you have, restarting it will be a little different. If you have an iPhone X, 11, 12, or 13, you need to press and hold the volume up or down button, along with the side button. Hold both of these until “slide to power off” appears. Slide the button and wait 30 seconds for the power to turn off. Once off, turn your iPhone back on by holding the side button until the Apple logo appears.

Slide to power off

For older iPhones, press and hold down the side or top power button until the power-off slider appears.

If your iPhone still has the same issues you noticed before, consider trying these additional steps to secure your device.

Clear your browsing data and history

If restarting your iOS device doesn’t clear the virus, you should also try to clear your browsing data and history. Clearing your browsing history depends on what browser you use.

Safari

To clear the data from Safari, you’ll head to the settings icon on your iPhone.

  • Scroll down to the Safari icon and select it

iPhone screen showing location of Safari icon

  • Find “Clear History and Website Data” and select it

iPhone screen showing location of button to clear history and website data in Safari

Google Chrome

If you use Chrome, you’ll head to the app to erase your browsing data and search history.

  • In Chrome, click on the “...” in the bottom right and select history

iPhone screen showing where to click on history in Chrome

  • Once in the history section, select “Clear Browsing Data.” This will allow you to define what to delete and in what time frame.

iPhone screen showing what to click to clear browsing data

Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers

For other browsers, head to the settings section and look for the option to erase your history and website data. This practice is also good for your laptop or desktop computer for added security, as well.

Restore your iPhone from a backup

Another option to remove malware from your iPhone is to restore your phone to a previous backup from before the virus was installed on your device. To begin the backup process, you want to make sure you have a recent backup saved on your iCloud.

To see your latest iCloud backup, go to Settings on your iPhone and select your Apple ID at the top of the settings menu.

iPhone screen showing where to click iCloud in Settings

Here you can find the iCloud icon and find your latest backup.

iPhone screen showing where to click on iCloud backup

After you select iCloud, you will select “iCloud backup.” If the backup is turned on, you will see your latest backup displayed.

iPhone screen showing iCloud backup

You can also instruct your iPhone to conduct a backup at this time if you need a more recent backup.

The benefit of restoring your iPhone from a backup is that you can go back to an earlier version prior to the virus being on your phone and still keep all of your important contacts, pictures, and more.

Once you’ve verified that you have a recent backup, you will want to begin the restoration process. To begin restoring your phone, you will want to follow the steps to erase all content and settings below.

Erase all content and settings

You’ll need to erase all your content and settings to install a backup version of your iPhone.

This is also an option even if you don’t have a backup. If your phone has become unusable due to malware, it might be worth it to erase all content and settings, even if you don’t have a backup. This will bring your phone back to its original condition when you purchased it.

Note: Erasing all content and settings will erase all of your content — including contacts, pictures, and more. It’s essentially a factory reset. You’ll need to start from scratch and re-download apps and other items if you don’t have a backup.

To erase all content and settings from your iPhone, follow these steps:

  • Open your device settings

iPhone settings screen

  • Go to “General”

iPhone screen showing where to click on General

  • Scroll down to “Transfer or Reset iPhone”

iPhone screen showing where to click on transfer or reset iPhone

  • Select “Erase All Content and Settings”

iPhone screen showing where to click on erase all content and settings

  • Follow the on-screen prompts to reset your device. You may need to enter your passcode.

Once the process is complete, it will reboot as if it were a new phone.

If you have a backup, follow the steps below to restore the backup. Just be sure the backup is from before the malware was installed.

If you don’t have a backup, you’re starting fresh and will need to manually download all your apps.

Restore from an iCloud or computer backup

Once you’ve erased all the content on your iPhone, turn the device on to start restoring the backup. When you turn on the iPhone, you’ll follow the prompts until you get to the Apps & Data section. Here, you can select to restore your phone from an iCloud backup or from a Mac or PC.

Restoring from iCloud

If you select to restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup, you’ll sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID and select the backup you’d like to use to restore your phone.

Your phone will begin restoring from the backup, which could take from minutes to hours to finalize. Your phone will show a progress bar of the process.

Restoring from a Mac running macOS Catalina

If you’d like to restore your iPhone from a backup on your Mac running macOS Catalina, you can also do that after erasing the content and settings. Similar to the iCloud backup, you’ll follow on-screen prompts until you get to the Apps & Data section of starting your iPhone. Here you can select to restore from a Mac.

If your backup is encrypted, you’ll need to enter the password to the backup to begin the process.

If you’re running macOS Catalina or a later operating system, you’ll complete the restore process through Finder. Open Finder and connect your iPhone with a USB cable. From here, select your iPhone from the finder window. Once you’ve selected your device, you can select “Restore Backup” to begin the process.

Similar to restoring from iCloud, you’ll select the backup you’d like to use and begin the restore process.

Restoring from a PC or earlier version of macOS

If you’re using a PC or a Mac with an earlier version of the operating system, you’ll use iTunes to complete the restoration process. To start, open iTunes and plug your iPhone into your computer using a USB cable.

From iTunes, you’ll be able to see the iPhone. Select the iPhone from the menu on the left and choose “Restore Backup” to begin the process. Select the backup you’d like to use and select restore.

How to protect your iPhone from malware

It’s important to take steps to protect your iPhone and other devices from malware. The same security tips you practice for your laptop or desktop device will help avoid unwanted files on your iPhone as well.

Here are a few security measures to keep your iPhone virus free:

  1. Don’t open files from unknown sources. You may receive text messages from unknown phone numbers that include a link to a file or even an actual file. These could be a scam or hackers attempting to get your information, and links could lead you to a phishing site. To avoid a virus, don’t click on suspicious links or open files from anyone you don’t know.
  2. Avoid apps you don’t remember downloading. If you see unfamiliar apps on your phone that you don’t remember downloading, consider deleting them. And only download apps from the App Store.
  3. Watch out for in-app ads. There are many apps out there that include in-app ads. These ads may link to an unwanted website. Avoid clicking on in-app ads that look suspicious or that you don’t recognize.
  4. Keep iOS up-to-date. Apple will periodically update iOS software. Many of these software updates have patches for iPhone vulnerabilities. Update your iPhone promptly when these are released.
  5. Use a VPN. A virtual private network or VPN is another way to keep your iPhone safe while browsing the internet, especially when you’re using public Wi-Fi. This will hide your IP address and help secure your browsing history.
  6. Encrypt your backup. To further protect your data and device, add encryption to your iPhone backups. This will add an extra layer of protection to the backup so you can restore your iPhone knowing that the backup data was secure.
  7. Avoid jailbreaking your device. Jailbreaking, or removing security features to gain access to the operating system, can decrease the security of your jailbroken device and could lead to more opportunities for malware.

In addition, there’s antivirus software you could install on your iPhone to help alleviate any issues from malware. Check out our picks for the best antivirus software to find an option that meets your needs.

FAQs


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Can an iPhone be infected with malware?

Yes, iPhones and iPads can be infected with malware. Apple does have a strict vetting process for new apps and also has enhanced security standards. However, iPhones can still get a virus from unsafe links or apps.


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How do you know if you have a virus on your iPhone?

There are a few signs that your iPhone may have a virus, including

  • Suspicious apps on your phone
  • Higher than normal data usage
  • Slow running speeds
  • Battery dying quickly

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Should you get antivirus protection for your iPhone?

Although Apple’s software is secure, antivirus software could give you an added layer of protection from any viruses. There is a variety of antivirus software available that will protect your iPhone and other devices.

Bottom line

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your personal data and your devices. Malware, ransomware, and other types of viruses could pose great harm to your information.

To better protect your iPhone and other internet-connected devices, be aware of the signs of a virus such as a loss of functionality, and be vigilant in your internet browsing so you can stay safer online.

You could also learn how antivirus software works. Antivirus software is also a great tool to use to protect your iPhone, but it is also an important tool in protecting your laptops and other devices.

Author Details
Andrew Adams
Andrew Strom Adams helps businesses with a variety of marketing and communication efforts including content strategy and writing, branding, marketing, and more. He holds an MBA from Westminster College in Salt Lake City and a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University.