Just like any other device, iPhones are not immune to malicious activities and cyber threats like spyware. Whether there's someone remotely taking controls, an employer monitoring work activities, or some prying eyes using surveillance software against you, there are steps you can take to prevent this and remove spyware from an iPhone.
In this article, we’re going to go over some actions you can take to remove spyware and how to protect your iPhone from it. We’ll explain the different types of spyware and how antivirus can protect you from not only spyware but from any cyber threats in the future.
What is spyware on an iPhone?
In a nutshell, spyware is software that monitors and records data without the user's knowledge or consent about the end user's activity on the device.
The spyware on your iPhone can be possibly installed by someone else, or it may have been downloaded maliciously or remotely through iCloud attacks or malicious app downloads. The spyware can record pretty much every action you take on your iPhone, regardless of how it got there. It then sends the information back to a stalker or a cybercriminal, including your browsing history, GPS location, and app usage.
Not to mention it has the ability to capture all information you type, such as passwords, credit card numbers, text messages, emails, and other important personal information. It even has access to your camera and microphone.
|Type||Spyware, stalkerware, malware|
|Affected devices||iPhone, Mac|
|Sypmtoms||Excessive data usage, unwanted pop-ups, fast draining battery life, new unknown apps on your iPhone, phone overheating.|
|Damage||Tracking and stealing your personal data like passwords, credit card numbers, calls, emails, text messages, videos, photos etc.|
How to tell if someone is spying on your iPhone?
Since spyware is designed to remain hidden and be monitored without you even knowing, it can be hard to detect it. Luckily, it’s possible to spot some of its cases if you know what malfunctions you’re looking for.
Here are a few things revealing that your phone has spyware:
- Unusual pop-up ads and messages. If you’re getting unwanted pop-ups, it can be a sign of spyware which often comes together with adware. Especially if you have jailbroken your iPhone and downloaded the app not from the official App Store.
- New unknown apps on your phone. Look for the apps on your iPhone that you didn’t install. An example would be the Cydia app that enables the installation of unauthorized software. The apps and features you download might carry spyware. Simply speaking, your phone becomes jailbroken. Having a Cydia app means that you can potentially have spyware software on your device.
- Fast-draining battery life. Spyware is usually working all the time and can rapidly drain your phone’s battery. If your phone battery has been declining exponentially and just doesn’t last as per usual, it might just be affected by the spyware.
- Slow performance and bad battery life. The spyware can cause lags, buffering, screen transitions, and generally extremely slow performance – this might also be a sign the spyware is running in the background.
- Spikes in data usage. The monitoring of your phone activity, collecting, storing and then sending all this data somewhere uses a lot of bandwidth. Therefore, you can see the number of data used jumping abnormally high.
- Your phone is often overheating. If you are not using your phone but it feels unusually warm or it even displays a caution message that it’s overheating, it also can be an indicator of spyware. After all, it runs processes on your phone, which heats the internal system.
- Background noise on calls. If you can hear weird noises or echoing while on the phone call, it could be a sign that someone is recording your call.
How to remove spyware from your iPhone
The best way to remove spyware from your iPhone is to get quality antivirus software for iOS devices, we recommend TotalAV antivirus. It will not only help you remove spyware but will ensure the overall protection of your phone and prevent any cyber threats from happening again.
Besides getting an antivirus, there are some general cleaning-up methods you should practice yourself to keep your device spyware-free.
Quite often, iPhone spyware is hard to find manually going through apps, folders, and files. Its function is to spy and so is to stay discreetly hidden. There are a few easy methods to remove spyware from your phone: by updating your software, removing dubious apps and clearing your browsing data, or resetting your iPhone to factory settings. To do that, we prepared you easy step-by-step guides below on how to remove spyware from your iPhone:
1. Update iOS software to the latest version
Updating your iPhone to the latest iOS software can assure you have the latest fixes and patches. However, this is not a single use fix – it is important that you keep your device updated constantly. Here’s how to update iOS to the latest version:
- Go to iPhone Settings and select General.
- Go to Software Update.
- Click on Download and Install.
- That’s it! You’ll be notified of the successful update once it's installed and your phone restarts.
2. Remove suspicious apps
If you find a suspicious app that you haven’t installed yourself, you can remove it from your device by simply pressing and holding the app icon. You’ll get a red-colored option to Remove app. Click on it, confirm again and the app will be uninstalled.
3. Clear browsing data and history
Whatever browser you’d be using on your iPhone, some spyware can dwell in your browsing data and history. Besides that, all of your browsing history is being logged and stored, unless you’re using an Incognito mode. In result, the bad actor is able to access all of your data that's been piling up in the browser. Here’s how to clear it:
- Open Safari app.
- Tap on the open book icon on the bottom.
- Tap the Clear option to delete your browsing history and cookies.
- Choose the time period you want to clear.
- That’s it! You’re all set.
4. Reset iPhone to factory settings
If none of the above methods works, the last resort is to reset your device to factory settings. With this method you will wipe your iPhone’s contents entirely, including spyware.
A factory reset means erasing all of your data, such as apps, files, and documents on the device and restoring the software to its original state. Before doing a factory settings reset, we highly recommend backing up your data.
To do the factory reset, follow these steps:
- Go to iPhone Settings and select General.
- Tap the Reset button at the bottom.
- Choose the option Erase All Content and Settings.
- Enter your passcode and finish the process by confirming again.
- That’s it. Your iPhone is now wiped clean. Once the device finishes resetting, you’ll need to set it up manually again.
How does spyware get on your iPhone?
There are different types of spyware and ways it can get on your iPhone or any other device. Here are some of the types of spyware:
- Common spyware. It can be an app that secretly installs itself on your iPhone and is usually controlled remotely by cybercriminals.
- iCloud spyware attacks. A malicious actor can find out your iCloud login credentials and monitor everything you do on your phone. This doesn’t require a cybercriminal to have physical access to your phone. Data extracted from an iCloud backup can include text messages, browsing history, calls, notes, installed apps, contacts, and other data.
- Masque attacks. In this case, a spyware program can pretend to be an update for a reputable app you have previously installed on your iPhone. For example, it can be disguised as a banking app update; therefore the hacker can steal the user's banking credentials and other personal data that might be on the app.
Can someone spy on your iPhone?
Technically, yes. From your friend, or employer to a cybercriminal – there’s a possibility of becoming spied upon. Regardless of what device you use, it is possible for someone to gain remote access and to spy on your iPhone too.
With spyware, a person can access a lot of your personal data. They can track your browsing history, GPS location, apps usage, can even record and collect all your keystrokes, which can reveal data like your passwords, credit card numbers, the content of your emails, text messages and other important information.
It’s easy for spyware to get on your device: a malicious link can be sent to you via email, text, or any communications app and it takes less than a minute to be installed. iOS spying software is usually well-disguised and is hard to detect. And even though iOS is known for its powerful security, it’s still vulnerable.
How to protect my iPhone from spyware?
Getting your iPhone infected with spyware can be damaging to your device: getting data stolen and your phone crashing down. Nonetheless, it’s important to take every measure to protect the device and prevent any spyware from getting on your phone again.
Here are some ways you can protect your iPhone from spyware:
- Use strong credentials. Protect your iPhone with strong login credentials: set a lock screen passcode, use long and unique passwords, biometric identification such as Face ID or Touch ID. Ensure that only you can unlock your device.
- Enable multi-authentication. Take an additional security step by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). Check for any other authentication available on iPhone’s Security settings.
- Use antivirus software. Have reliable antivirus software installed on your iPhone like TotalAV or Bitdefender. It has general threat protection for iPhone and other OS against online threats, as well as inlcudes advanced cybersecurity suites with real-time protection and other optimization tools.
- Keep an eye on any suspicious activity. Make sure your iPhone is working smoothly and there are no malicious apps appearing without your notice.
- Get a VPN. To get top-tier protection for your device and data, a VPN might be a good solution – it encrypts your traffic and lets you browse securely, especially when you’re using a public wifi network where you’re highly exposed to spyware getting on your iPhone. A VPN ensures none of your data can be accessed or compromised. There are multiple VPN and antivirus software bundle options available.
iPhones and other iOS devices are susceptible to spyware just as to other viruses. There are numerous types of spyware that you might encounter. It’s important to understand the way spyware affects your iPhone and if you can spot it, you can also take action to remove it. It may require updating your iOS or performing a factory reset.
Moreover, you should always take action to prevent spyware infection or any other viruses in the future. One of the best solutions we’ve tested is to acquire a quality antivirus like TotalAV – it’s the top-rated option in the market with all-around protection for iOS and other devices.
Alternatively, you can take precautions by regularly updating your phone, keeping an eye on any suspicious activity, and enabling all the useful protection tools like a VPN or multi-factor authentication.
More guides from Cybernews:
How do I remove a spy app from my iPhone?
There are several ways to remove a spy app from your iPhone. You can do it by updating your phone software, removing malicious apps, or resetting your iPhone to factory settings, which will wipe your phone completely and reset to its initial settings.
Will an iPhone reset remove spyware?
Technically, yes. Resetting your iPhone to factory settings should remove all contents from your phone, including spyware. If you had your backup set before spyware infecting your iPhone, you won’t lose your data.
Can spyware be installed on an iPhone remotely?
Yes, the spyware software can be installed remotely without touching a user’s phone. Spyware can be loaded onto your iPhone via a malicious app, or if someone physically gains access to your device. We encourage you to perform regular antivirus scans on your iPhone with an antivirus.