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How to Find Spyware on iPhone?
Updated · Sep 01, 2023
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Spyware refers to the malware that snoops on your device. Its primary purpose is to collect and send your personal data to a third party.
The National Cyber Security Alliance said 80% of internet users had spyware infection. This malicious software can go unnoticed for a long time, resulting in severe damage.
Despite iPhone’s built-in security, spyware still finds a way to enter the device and access your microphone and camera. It is a major threat to a user’s security.
Discover the different ways to spot and get rid of spyware on iPhones with this article. Read on.
🔑 Key Takeaways
Spyware poses a threat by collecting personal data and compromising iPhone privacy.
Telltale signs of spyware infection include decreased battery life, suspicious messages, and slow performance.
Spyware suggests invasive data collection, which can lead to identity theft or financial loss.
Remove spyware by updating your system, deleting suspicious apps, and using factory reset if needed.
Protect iPhones by avoiding risky links, downloading solely from App Store, using strong passwords, and more.
Spyware: How To Detect Them On Your iPhone?
Spyware is a malware variant that can go into your device unnoticed. It can also pretend to be legitimate software that checks your activities.
This malware can cause data breaches and invasion of privacy.
💡Did you know?
Data breaches are so frequent that around 68 records get lost or stolen per second. One of the common causes of these issues is spyware.
It is challenging to detect spyware on iPhones. Knowing the early signs of spyware infection can help you solve the problem immediately.
Here are signs that you can look out for to detect spyware on iPhones:
1. Decreased Battery Life
Decreased battery life is common for old phones. However, it is odd if this happens to newer models.
Spyware is to blame for this issue. This malware overuses the device’s battery to track your activities. It uses the phone’s microphone and camera to spy on you, resulting in abnormal battery drain.
2. Random Browser Redirects and Pop-up Ads
Spyware might convince you to click on something to install more malware on your phone. It will show pop-up ads that lead to malicious websites using browser redirects.
The records show that most people see 4,000 to 10,000 ads daily. A significant chunk of these ads are pop-ups.
3. Suspicious Messages
Messaging can be an attacker's communication method. They can send you or your contacts suspicious messages with links that install spyware on iPhones.
SMS-phishing, better known as smishing, also happens daily. According to statistics, 8.9% to 14.5% of the recipients click the attached link.
This leads hackers and scammers to send more messages, luring people to click on the link that contains spyware.
4. Slow Operating System
One of the apparent signs of an iPhone having spyware is its slow performance. You can notice that it freezes all the time.
Spyware takes space on your device to do its activities, leading your phone to slower performance.
5. Suspicious App Activities
Spyware can cause weird applications to pop up on your phone. It can be "anti-virus" apps, camera apps, games, or anything that you did not download.
If you notice these signs on your iPhone, there’s a high chance your device has spyware. Make sure to remove it immediately using the methods in the next section.
iOS Spyware Removal for iPhone
Apple products are famous for their secure protection against malware.
According to Panda Security, Android devices are more vulnerable to malware—experiencing almost 50% of malware infections.
On the other hand, iPhones reported having less than 1%. However, this does not mean iPhones are 100% safe from malware, especially spyware.
Here are some tips on how to clean your iPhone from spyware:
1. Update iOS Software
Hackers infect your phone with spyware through vulnerabilities in software. Apple regularly makes solutions for this by updating its security.
At the time this article is being written, the latest version of iOS is iOS 16. The public is now waiting for the release of iOS 17, which is expected to roll out in September 2023.
iOS 17 is said to offer more security features. For instance, you can lock your Safari windows automatically when using Private Browsing.
iPhones will also be able to block automatic connections to open networks, reducing the risk of catching malware in public WiFi.
This is why it is vital to install system updates regularly. Here's how you can do it:
Step 1: Go to your phone's "Settings" and click "General."
Step 2: Search for "Software Update." Click it once it shows up on the search results.
Step 3: Select "Download and Install" and enter your "Passcode."
Step 4: Click Download and Install to start to update. Users can activate Automatic Updates.
✅ Pro Tip
You can also turn on Automatic Updates, so your device updates to the latest version of iOS automatically.
Tap Automatic Updates in the Software Update section. Make sure that all three options on the page are switched on.
2. Delete Suspicious Apps
If you notice that your phone has an application that you do not remember downloading, it might be spyware. This malicious software can pretend to be legitimate mobile apps to access your device, files, and personal data.
Delete suspicious apps on your iPhone immediately with these two easy steps:
Step 1: Long-press the application icon.
Step 2: Choose "Remove App" or "Delete App."
3. Do a Factory Reset
Occasionally, the methods above do not delete spyware entirely. If this is the case, you can still remove it through a factory reset.
Before doing a factory reset on your iPhone, make sure to back up all your data. It will be impossible to recover any lost files once the device is reset.
Here's how you can execute a factory reset on iPhones:
Step 1: Go to your "Settings" and click "General."
Step 2: Search for "Reset.”
Step 3: Select "Erase All Content and Settings." Click to confirm.
After knowing how to get rid of spyware on iPhones, users should also understand why they should be wary of spyware.
Keep reading to discover the risks of this malicious software.
The Dangers of Spyware
Spyware effects can range from mild to severe. iOS devices rarely get infected by spyware, but they are not safe.
If your device gets infected by spyware and it is not removed immediately, you or your device may experience the following:
1. Identity theft
Spyware can steal your identity. Hackers use the information collected by the spyware on your phone to perform illegal activities under your name.
One of the most notorious spyware today is the Pegasus. It is a zero-click software that collects information on iOS and Android devices.
Its data collection capability can gather messages, app usage, and location. It can even access an iPhone's microphone and camera.
AppleInsider says Pegasus affected several victims in a military conflict in Armenia.
iPhone spyware at war: Researchers claim that at least a dozen victims in Armenia were targeted with Pegasus in the first recorded use of the malware package in a military conflict. https://t.co/8JFovm7Lx3 pic.twitter.com/mjTgyhNODP— AppleInsider (@appleinsider) May 25, 2023
2. Financial loss
One of the most common goals of hackers that spread spyware is to steal money. They can get your bank details using the spyware on your phone.
Over 25% of all cyberattacks hit banks than other industries. These statistics show that financial institutions are more prone to malware attacks.
💡Did you know?
Sky Mavis, the Vietnamese studio that created the popular game “Axie Infinity,” lost more or less than $600 million after an employee clicked a PDF file containing spyware.
3. Permanent damage to your device
Spyware can initiate illegal activities on your device. It can also lead to cyberattacks and cause significant and long-term damage to your device.
Since spyware needs processing power to run, it can drain your device's performance. If not removed soon, it can slow your device and experience lags.
Other long-term or permanent damages Spyware can do to your phone are:
- Sudden battery drain
- Unusual overheating
- Strange actions of the OS and the apps
Spyware can also run other processes without your consent.
For instance, you may see your GPS and other location functions even if you don't do anything. You'll also encounter random rebooting without your permission.
5 Ways To Protect Your iPhone From Spyware
Malware rarely infects iPhones, but these devices are still not immune to spyware. Users must know the best ways to avoid it.
To protect your iPhone from spyware, follow these tips:
Refrain from Clicking Untrusted Links
Spyware can hide in links waiting for an unsuspecting user to click on them. If you stumbled upon links from questionable sources, avoid clicking on them. Verify first if they are safe to visit.
The security feature of iOS is excellent. Typically, you won’t need other apps to protect your phone.
Nonetheless, VPN use remains crucial to avoid the risks of visiting sites with suspicious links. This tool hides your IP to avoid being tracked, and most VPN services come with malware protection.
Download Applications Only on the App Store
Apple does not allow the installation of apps from untrusted sources. This is why Apple devices have its exclusive App Store, where you can download legitimate applications.
App Store’s exclusivity is one of the contributing factors to why iPhones are known to be secure. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, said in a live interview with Brut:
Since Apple values privacy and security, you are assured that all App Store apps are safe to download.
If you find an application online, search for it on the App Store and download it there.
Do Not Connect to Unsecured Networks
Unsecured networks have a high risk of malware infection. Hackers can access your phone once you connect to them.
Avoid joining public WiFi and other untrusted networks as much as possible. Switch off your phone’s “Auto-Join to Hotspot” option to avoid connecting to networks automatically.
Refrain from connecting to networks with WEP or WPA as the WiFi security. Only join networks that use WPA2 or WPA3, as these options are more secure.
Bypassing your iPhone can weaken the device's innate security. It can experience frequent freezing and crashing.
Jailbreaking your phone also means violating Apple's Terms and Conditions. If this happens, the company can no longer protect your device within its limits.
Set Up Passwords and Biometric Authentication
Securing your phone with unique passkeys is one of the best protection practices. Cybercriminals cannot access it if it has passwords.
Depending on the model that you have, iPhones have either Face ID or Touch ID as a security layer. These biometric authentications are common types of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
Make use of those features to establish higher security on your services.
Set up OTPs for your banking apps to secure your financial details. You can also add this to your social media and e-commerce accounts,
Detecting spyware on iPhones is crucial for maintaining privacy and security. While spyware can be unnoticeable, several methods exist to uncover its presence.
Avoid spyware by staying alert, updating your OS, and doing other security measures. Implementing these practices lets you protect your device along with your personal information.
Prevention is vital to avoid the dangerous effects of spyware on you and your device.
What does *#21 do on an iPhone?
It lets you know if the device enables call forwarding. This code allows users to see the call forwarding setting in their Phone app.
How do I run a malware scan on my iPhone?
You can scan your iPhone by looking out for malware symptoms. This covers any suspicious apps, files, and ads. It’s also best to use antivirus tools for enhanced protection besides scanning.
How to find hidden spy apps on your iPhone?
You will notice suspicious activities if you have a spy app on your phone. Always track your phone's health and actions to know if you have spyware.
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