Yes, it can happen. Your iPhone can become infected with spyware, viruses or malicious apps, contrary to popular belief. iPhones may be secure devices, but they aren’t impenetrable. If you have purchased a phone from someone else, you should be extra-vigilant and go through this article closely.
We mention some troubleshooting tips to help you recover from a nasty app or a virus, but if you find that you can’t get the situation under control, you might need to get to a local shop for some iPhone repair. Sometimes you just have to leave it up to the experts.
Is My iPhone Infected?
- Step One: See if your iPhone is jailbroken. A jailbroken iPhone does not have built in security restrictions, leaving it prey to malicious software that can take advantage of permissions. If you have purchased your iPhone from a third party, or have left it alone with someone you don’t know, check to see if it is jailbroken.
- Open the Search Bar
- Type “cydia” into the Search Bar
- If an app called “Cydia” appears in your results, your iPhone is jailbroken.
- Be on the lookout for Safari pop-up ads. If you are suddenly stricken with a slew of pop-ups, you might be dealing with an infection.
- Keep an eye out for apps that crash. If you are regularly using apps that suddenly crash, there may be an exploit in this app that a hacker has taken advantage of.
- Look for apps you didn’t install. Trojan apps appear to be legitimate so this might take a little digging.
- Go through your home screens and check for apps you don’t remember installing, or might not even recognize
- You can see a list of every app you’ve installed from the App Store by tapping the Apps icon at the bottom of your store.
- Tap on your profile.
- Tap Purchased.
- If there’s an app on your phone that isn’t on this list, it’s probably bad news.
- See if you are being subjected to inexplicable extra charges. Viruses run silently in the background, leaching off of your data to talk to the internet. Check your carrier’s billing statement for SMS messages sent to premium numbers or spikes in data usage.
- Keep an eye on battery performance. Again, viruses run in the background, draining your battery quicker than usual.
I Think I May Be Infected. What Now?
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- Clear your website data and history by going to Settings, then Safari, then Clear History and Website Data. Tap to confirm. Power off and restart.
- Remove any apps you don’t remember installing or haven’t installed.
- Restore your iPhone from a backup before you got infected. Try to restore from the most recent backup. If this doesn’t work, you might have backed up the malware or virus, so restore from your second most recent backup.
- Restore your iPhone as a new device. You should do this if you can’t restore your phone from backup. Go to Settings, then General, then Reset, and Erase All Contents and Settings. Set up the iPhone as a new device,
How do I Prevent Getting Infected in the Future?
- Update your iOS regularly.
- Activate Find my iPhone. This app will allow you to wipe your personal data from a lost or stolen phone.
- Craft a longer passcode. Did you know that a tool called GrayKey can crack iPhone passwords? It can crack a four-digit passcode in just a few hours. A six-digit code can be cracked in just a couple of days.
- Choose a passcode longer than six digits. The good news is that a ten digit pin code can take a decade to crack.
- You can also use a passphrase that contains words. Make sure to use random words that normally wouldn’t appear together.
- If you’re very concerned about losing data, use a password with numbers, letters, symbols, upper case and lower case.
- Set up the option that after 10 incorrect guesses at your passcode, your iPhone will automatically wipe all of your content.
- Make sure you backup your data in general, but especially if you enable this option.
- Don’t click on unknown links in text messages, email or even on the internet.
- If the email or message looks fishy, or you don’t know who sent it, don’t open it.
Make sure apps don’t collect too many permissions. When you use apps you’ll find you’re prompted to allow the app to access things like the camera or microphone. Does your poker game really need access to your microphone? Turn off Siri. Yes, we know this is disappointing, but Siri can provide malicious parties your personal information. Although Siri might ask for some type of verification, there have been workarounds where people have bypassed the iPhone passcode with Siri, allowing them unmitigated access to your device.
Turn off Auto-fill. Apple’s auto-fill feature in Safari is extremely useful, but if a hacker manages to get into your iPhone, they have full access to your logins and credit card information.
Protect your iCloud data with two-step authentication and audit your secure questions. If you want to be very vigilant, use answers that aren’t necessarily true, so someone isn’t able to use social engineering to bypass your security questions and get to your iCloud.
These are some preliminary tips on how to find out if you have an iPhone infection, what to do about it, and how to prevent getting hacked in the future. Although the iPhone is a secure device, there are various ways to gain access to it. And hey – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.