It's always a good idea to be careful about the risk of viruses and other malware, but when it comes to your iPhone, you don't have much to worry about. Dionisio Zumerle, senior director of research firm Gartner, sums it up as follows: "The chances of capturing malware on Android range from 0.05 to 0.71%. I would say that the percentage for iOS would be even lower than that, making the risk of Today the iOS malware is quite low. "
Even so, you can challenge the odds – however subtle – and end up with an infected iPhone. Or at least have a phone that behaves like it might be infected. Here's what you can do to fix the problem and remove the malware from your abnormal phone.
What problem are you having?
Thanks to the way Apple has designed iOS, malware generally can't do much even if it finds its way onto your phone. Typically, look for behaviors like Safari that redirect to web pages that you didn't request, emails and text messages sent automatically without your permission, or the App Store that opens by itself.
Even so, these are not guaranteed signs of a virus. Depending on the type of app you have installed, especially automation apps like IFTTT, some of these things can happen on purpose. Other potential symptoms, such as frequent crashes of the app, change of settings or buttons that perform actions other than those expected, may actually be the result of a bug or an iOS update that changes something without your knowledge.
Read more: Can iPhones have viruses? Here's what you need to know
Determine which app is to blame
Regardless of the symptoms you are experiencing, the first thing you should try to determine is whether the problem you are experiencing always or only when a specific application is running. Take note of the problem and see which app you're using when it happens.
If you can restrict the problem to a single app, check if an update is available in the App Store. This may solve the problem, but if not, uninstall the app. If the problem finally disappears after uninstalling the app, now you know the root cause. You can try reinstalling the app again to see if the problem has been eliminated or contact the app's manufacturer's technical support.
Restart your phone
If you can't narrow the problem down to a single app, the next step should be to restart the iPhone. Just like restarting the computer, turning off the phone and turning it back on can solve a lot of unexpected problems.
Clear the Safari cache
Some problems, particularly those related to web browsing, can be solved by emptying the browser's cache. This is especially true if you find that Safari redirects to websites that you have not requested or that the links stop working as they should.
Restore your phone to a previous backup
If none of these things solve your problem, more extreme measures may be needed to try to get your phone back on top form. If you have a pretty clear idea of when the phone started having problems, you could restore your phone with a backup going back before the infection. Remember, though: this will erase everything that was added to your phone from that backup, including apps, photos and music, so just do it if you're sure you have a serious problem and nothing else worked.
If you really want to try it, restore your iPhone's factory settings and then – after your phone has been completely reset – access your Apple ID from your new iPhone and then choose a recent pre-infection backup to restore your phone. Remember not to restore the most recent backup or go back to where you started.
If this does not solve the problem, you can repeat the process and try again with a previous backup.
Start fresh with factory settings
If restoring the phone to a previous backup has not solved the problem: the malware or another problem is still affected, you have the last chance to try. Restores the iPhone factory settings and, instead of restoring a backup, configures the phone as a new device. Do not restore apps or data.
Instead, work with the phone in its new factory condition. If the problem has disappeared, start manually downloading the apps you lost.
If the problem persists even after resetting the phone, what you have is a hardware problem. No virus can survive on the iPhone through a factory reset, so you need to take the phone to an Apple store for maintenance.
As indicated, the chances of your iPhone being infected with malware are very small. And indeed, there are no real anti-virus applications for the iPhone, which are in themselves a signal of how low the risk is. But to stay safe, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your phone updated. Make sure you install iOS updates whenever they are available and install app updates regularly.
- Never jailbreak your phone.
- Do not install apps from any location outside the App Store. In general, it is not possible to do this without the jailbreak of a phone, but the development tools allow you to work around this problem to install trial versions of unreleased apps. Avoid this.