Digital iPhone isolated on black banner with cyber attack warning

If your iPhone is acting slower than usual or its battery drains way too fast, it’s worth checking to see if malware has somehow snuck onto your smartphone.

Apple’s iPhone is known for its security, thanks to its closed ecosystem and strict App Store regulations. It rejects millions of apps that breach privacy, security and content standards and protects users from thousands of dodgy apps. However, your iPhone isn’t completely immune to malware.

It can be tricky to determine if your iPhone is infected with malware. The good news is there’s an easy way to detect any malicious software on your device.

This guide will help you discover the best ways to scan your iPhone for malware using reliable antivirus software.

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How to scan iPhone for malware

Follow the steps below to find out if there is any malicious software on your iPhone. We recommend following each step, as different kinds of malware can be difficult to spot. If you find any unfamiliar apps that you don’t need, make sure to uninstall these iPhone apps safely.

Check for unfamiliar apps

There are over a million apps on the Apple App Store, and the average iPhone user may have dozens of apps that they downloaded and barely use. Hackers can take advantage of this in a few ways, including changing the app’s image or title and hiding it in your iPhone’s App Library.

Scroll through all your iPhone apps in the App Library and check for unfamiliar apps you don’t remember installing.

Check your battery life

Malware is known to use your device’s resources in the background, making it harder for users to detect malicious activity. On a mobile device like an iPhone, this can deplete its daily battery life. If your iPhone’s battery life is running out sooner than expected, it’s worth checking Battery settings to see if an app is causing the issue.

Head into Settings > Battery to check if any unfamiliar apps are consuming a high amount of your iPhone’s battery life.

Watch out for pop-up ads

While pop-up advertisements are inevitable in apps and browsers when scrolling through websites, seeing too many is concerning.

If an app or website keeps redirecting you to different web pages and installing unwanted toolbars, extensions or plugins, it could be a sign of adware on your iPhone.

Use antivirus software on iPhone

Simply put, the best way to scan for malware on iPhone is to use the best antivirus software.

Many free malware removal apps will dispatch malicious software on your device. Still, it’s a good idea to ensure these tools are trustworthy, as hackers can also disguise these apps on the Apple App Store to deploy even more malware.

The best antivirus apps come with a suite of security features that can eliminate viruses, malware, ransomware, adware, spyware or any malicious software that burrows into your iPhone. Some antivirus software, such as Bitdefender, offers security subscriptions specifically for iPhone, making it a more cost-effective option for those needing only iPhone protection.

We recommend free apps from known cybersecurity companies, including Avast One, AVG and Malwarebytes Mobile Security. These will detect and remove malware on your iPhone. Check out our thoughts on each antivirus below.

Signs of malware on iPhone

Malware can be hard to spot, as cybercriminals will do everything in their power to hide the malicious software so they can carry out their cruel acts right under a user’s nose. However, there are telltale signs that your iPhone is under attack, which may include your device’s browser (like Safari or Chrome) redirecting you to different web pages and installing unwanted toolbars, extensions or plugins. Any malware can also affect your device directly.

  • Your device is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
  • Your browser is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
  • Browsing through websites takes longer.
  • You need to recharge your device more often.
  • Apps take longer to load.
  • There’s an unknown app or software on your device you didn’t download.
  • Pop-up ads appear more frequently.
  • You iPhone is overheating.
Apple Apps on iPhone

How does iPhone get malware?

There are numerous ways malware can infect your iPhone. From adware and Trojans to ransomware and spyware, hackers use all kinds of malware to loot your personal and financial data – and all it takes is a mistaken click on a dodgy website, malicious email attachment or suspicious app on the App Store that has slipped through the cracks (such as these fake ChatGPT apps).

That being said, it is less likely for your iPhone to be infected with malware or a virus than Android phones. Apple is known for boasting a secure operating system (OS) and layers of protection on its App Store.

A popular method for hackers to infect mobile devices is through apps. There are plenty of examples of malware on Android apps, as it’s an easy way to trick potential victims into downloading legitimate-looking apps.

Thanks to Apple’s meticulous screening process before apps are made available, it’s harder for threat actors to get a malicious app on the App Store. In fact, Apple’s App Store protected users from nearly 1.7 million apps found to be breaching privacy, security and content standards, preventing over $2 billion in potentially fraudulent in 2022.

Since all apps on iPhone are obtained from the App Store and are sandboxed, Apple devices have a strong defence against malware threats. But that doesn’t make it impossible for iPhones to get malware.

Some users jailbreak their iPhones to access app stores outside Apple’s App Store. These stores don’t have Apple’s layers of protection, meaning it’s easier for hackers to distribute malware in illegitimate apps.

Can any antivirus scan and protect iPhone?

Many antivirus apps can be used to scan and get rid of malware on iPhone, but some are more trustworthy than others. Unfortunately, hackers can trick users into downloading malicious apps disguised as free antivirus apps.

To scan your iPhone for malware safely, use the best antivirus apps like Norton 360 and Bitdefender.

Antivirus software comes in the form of security apps designed to detect, prevent and remove malware on your iPhone. When installed, it will scan through everything on your iPhone, including software, applications, files and even web pages. Reliable antivirus services will notify you about suspicious software, allowing you to block or destroy emerging cyber threats.

To infiltrate a device, hackers will use different types of malware, including computer viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, Trojans, and spam — anything that could be used to steal valuable data. An antivirus will watch and throw out malicious software that sneaks onto a device. Think of it as your personal, battle-hardened bouncer keeping unwanted guests out of your exclusive nightclub.

Some malicious apps slip through the cracks of Apple’s security. To keep your iPhone safe from malware, download the best antivirus app for iPhone.

Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware

1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023

Norton 360 on Laptop scaled

“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990. 

Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats. 

Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.

If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.

Read our full Norton 360 review

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2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools

Bitdefender Lead Image scaled

Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.

Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.

It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need. 

Read our full Bitdefender review

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3. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!

Avast One logo on laptop

With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.

Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.

It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.

Read our full Avast One review

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4. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for multiple devices + free plan available!

AVG Antivirus logo scaled

You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

Read our full AVG Antivirus review

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Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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