iPhone and iPad

Are iOS devices protected from viruses and malware?

While iOS devices have long been touted as more secure than their Android counterparts, questions still linger about their vulnerability to cyber threats.

Are iPhones and iPads truly immune to viruses and malware?

In this article, we will explore the intricate layers of security that safeguard iOS devices, debunk some common myths, and uncover any potential weaknesses in Apple’s fortress-like defences.

What Does iOS Do to Keep You Safe from Viruses and Malware?

Let’s look at the features built into iOS to see why it typically doesn’t suffer from viruses.

Closed Ecosystem

Unlike Android, which allows app installation from various sources, iOS restricts app downloads solely to the App Store. This curated marketplace undergoes rigorous vetting by Apple, significantly reducing the chances of malicious apps infiltrating the system.

App Store Controls

Apple’s “walled garden” approach to iOS apps protects its users. In contrast to Android, where programs may be “sideloaded” from anywhere, the only official option to install iOS apps is via the App Store. In principle, this implies that the millions of available apps are secure. Apple manually evaluates every app a developer submits to the App Store. Apps that contain malicious code or exhibit risky behaviour are rejected. This approach is not flawless, but it eliminates the vast majority of harmful applications that would otherwise be available for download by everyone.


iOS includes a security method called sandboxing to ensure that applications do not exceed their limits. This effectively prevents any installed program from accessing data from other applications. In addition, the vast majority of iOS applications function under a restricted account.

Apps cannot change system settings or inflict harm without access to the root (administrator) account. This practically means that even if a malicious application is successfully installed, it will not have complete access to the operating system and its data.

Timely iOS Updates

Keeping your operating system up to date is one of the best ways to protect against malware. This is another area in which iOS has a huge advantage over Android.

When Apple releases a new version of iOS, all compatible devices get it right away. Look at the breakdown of iOS installations, and you’ll see that most users run the latest version.

This isn’t the case with Android. A fragmented update cycle means that most users wait months for updates, and some never see them at all. Thus, keeping their phones updated keeps iPhone users safe from old exploits.

Hardware and Software Integration

The tight integration between Apple’s hardware and software allows for more granular control over security features. This synergy makes it more challenging for attackers to exploit loopholes.

Problems Not Caused by Malware

While it’s true that iOS devices are less likely to be infected by malware, there are still some ways that criminals can target them. For example, phishing attacks are a common way to trick people into installing malicious software on their devices.

And while the App Store does a good job of vetting apps, there have been some instances of malicious apps slipping through the cracks. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant when downloading apps, and only download apps from trusted sources.

Also Read: How to add Podcasts to Apple Watch

Jailbreaking Is a Security Risk

As a result, the typical iPhone user shouldn’t have to worry about getting a virus. However, we failed to account for the biggest threat to iOS users’ privacy: jailbreaking. If you haven’t heard of jailbreaking before, it’s a process through which you may gain access to your iPhone as an administrator and remove any restrictions imposed by Apple. Once an iPhone has been “jailbroken,” users have the freedom to install software from wherever they like and make alterations to the operating system in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

Jailbreaking can make your iPhone more vulnerable to malware and hacking. Unauthorised apps from unknown sources can contain malware that can infect your device. And since jailbroken iPhones are not as secure as non-jailbroken iPhones, they can be more susceptible to hacking.

What About iOS Antivirus Apps?

You might wonder why the App Store has plenty of antivirus apps available if there’s little risk of malware on iOS. When you look at these apps, however, it’s evident that they don’t provide any utility.

Apps like Lookout, Avira, and Norton don’t scan for viruses on your iPhone. They can’t do this due to the sandboxing we discussed earlier. Yet most offer a similar set of features, including:

  • Phone locator and alarm
  • Protection from dangerous websites
  • Notifications about iOS updates

There’s one problem with this: You already have access to all these features!

The Find My iPhone feature is built into iOS and lets you locate your phone or sound an alarm. Safari and other iOS browsers display warnings if you visit shady sites. And you’ll see a badge in the Settings app when an iOS update is available.

Other capabilities, such as VPNs and account monitoring, are best left to specialised programmes. While these “antivirus” applications are not harmful, they are at best redundant versions of functions you already have. However, they do offer some features.

Your iPhone Should Never Get Malware.

Now that we’ve examined all the angles of malware on iOS, we can answer the question: Can your iPhone get viruses?

Malware could, in theory, get on an iPhone, but if you are careful and take basic security steps, your iPhone should stay virus-free. Keep your iPhone free of malware by not jailbreaking it, regularly updating your iOS, and only installing apps from trusted sources. While it’s unlikely that you’ll come across an app tainted with malware like XcodeGhost, avoiding unknown developers and programs can help you remain safe.


The question of whether iPhones and iPads are susceptible to viruses and malware is a common one, often shrouded in a layer of misconception. While it’s true that iOS devices generally boast a lower risk of infection compared to their Android counterparts, it’s crucial to understand that they are not entirely invulnerable.

There have been instances where malicious apps have made it onto the App Store and infected iOS devices. Therefore, it’s important to be cautious when downloading and installing apps, even if they’re from the App Store. In general, though, iOS devices are much less susceptible to viruses and malware than devices that run other operating systems. This is one of the benefits of using an iPhone or iPad.

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and freelancer.com. When not working, he plays Valorant.

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