How To Clean Your iPhone From Spyware & Keep Your Data Private

Learn how to recognize and remove spyware from your iPhone.

Nikolina Cveticanin Image
Updated:

July 24,2022

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We once used our phones mainly for calls, but their current utility has exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. Today, we use them for everything from traveling to buying cars. We can even complete bank transactions with our iOS or Android devices in a matter of seconds.

While this has made our lives much easier, certain risks have emerged. Our data can be compromised, money stolen, and one of the ways to do that is via spyware. If you want to know how to clean your iPhone from spyware, we’ve got you covered. This article will serve as a step-by-step guide to removing this threat from your favorite gadget, so let’s get started.

What Is Spyware?

Spyware is a type of malware whose primary goal is to steal sensitive data. This data can be sold to advertisers and companies or kept for personal use. Spyware is installed on a phone or other computing devices without the user’s consent, and very often, it stays hidden for a long time.

This software is dangerous because it keeps track of user activity and keystrokes and collects important information. Hackers mostly opt for spyware to obtain financial information or passwords from their victims. However, this type of software is sometimes used by overbearing parents or partners, too. Spyware attacks on iPhone devices are rare, but they still do happen. 

It is often very hard to detect, and the affected devices must be equipped with anti-spyware tools. These are essential in combating the spyware threat and effectively preventing it from getting onto your computer, tablet, or phone. 

How Does Spyware Get Onto Your iPhone?

You can get spyware via a download, or someone can intentionally hack you and remotely place the spying software on your phone. 

However, in most cases, physical access to a device is required, and often we install it ourselves without knowing it by downloading apps from third-party sites. Someone from the family can also do it, or it can be a friend or a coworker. In any case, once detected, you’ll want to do everything you can to remove spyware from your iPhone. 

Signs of Spyware

Although the best way to know if you have spyware is to run a scan with proper software, some signs can indicate that your device might be infected. 

Your Phone Keeps Overheating

While there can be many reasons your phone is overheating, spyware is one of the possible culprits. A significant increase in your phone’s temperature should not be ignored, so if you notice that your phone is warmer than usual, check it for malware and run full diagnostics. 

You Suddenly Have Apps You Don’t Remember Downloading

If you see an app on your iPhone that you don’t remember downloading, this can easily be spyware. Very soon, you might have to learn how to remove spyware from your iPhone. Usually, when someone wants to install spyware on your phone, they need to access it physically or have an app installed locally.

If there is no option for this app to stay hidden, you can check for new apps on your phone and see if there was something new installed without your knowledge. 

Your Battery Needs Charging All the Time

If your battery is always low, this may be a sign of spying malware running on your phone. Since these programs run non-stop and track your activity, your battery gets drained faster than usual. Unless you often play games on your iPhone or use it more than an average user, it would be wise to run a check for iPhone spyware or other malware as soon as you start experiencing battery issues. 

You Reach Your Monthly Data Limit Too Quickly

Every process run by the spyware is done with your mobile data, and there are many processes run in the background. With that in mind, you can expect spyware to tank your mobile data cap just like it will do with the battery.

Random Messages Keep Popping Up on Your Phone

Spyware on your iPhone may often produce unwanted pop-ups. Sometimes, these pop-ups can appear like text messages or app notifications. However, if you establish that spyware is not to blame, maybe check if adware is at fault. 

It Takes Ages To Start Any Program

Similar to overheating, the slower performance of your device can stem from different problems, and one of them is spyware. Since the spying software uses your data and runs in the background, the speed of your device is often affected adversely. Pay close attention if you notice that your iPhone runs slower than usual. If so, perform an iPhone spyware removal.

How To Remove Spyware From Your iPhone

You can take various steps to remove spyware from your phone. These range from updating your iPhone to performing a factory reset, and we’ll discuss them below. In any case, it is essential for all users to use anti-malware software because manually removing the spyware might not work.

Start by Updating All of Your Software

Some people’s iPhones get infected with spyware because they haven’t updated them in a long time, and the bad actors can use system vulnerabilities that were since patched out. If iPhone spyware detection is not done regularly, the likelihood of infection is greater. 

Older system vulnerabilities are often removed with the latest iOS updates, and if you’re still stuck with the previous version, attackers might take advantage of this. Here’s how to do it. 

1. Go to Settings.

iOS Settings

2. Scroll down and tap on General.

iOS settings general

3. Tap on Software Update.

iOS Software Update

4. Proceed to install the software update: click on Download & Install, check the Agree to Terms popup, and enter a password as needed.

Find Apps You Don’t Remember Downloading and Delete Them

If there are apps on your phone that you didn’t download, you can simply try deleting them as the first step. Make sure to scan your iPhone for spyware after this. This is done by pressing and holding the app icon. Tap the Remove app button from the menu and then tap on Delete app. 

Different app-deleting programs and iOS versions may have a slightly different interface, but all of them should provide you with the “Delete the app” option.

Check Your Purchase History on the App Store

To ensure that apps weren’t downloaded without your knowledge, you can check your iPhone's purchase history within the App store. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Open the App Store on your iPhone.

iOS App Store

2. The first step is tapping the Profile icon.

iOS App Store Profile

3. By tapping Purchased, you’ll be able to view the app history.

iOS App Store App History

4. Go through the app history and review them. 

If you want to see deleted and downloaded apps, you should click on the Not on this iPhone option. All apps will be shown in the Purchased menu. Spyware for the iPhone is typically sneaky, so this option might not always help.

Check for Apps With the Location Services Turned On

Spyware software usually uses location services, so it’s wise to check which apps on your phone use this feature. If you do see that some apps use location services, this should not worry you right away because multiple legitimate apps, such as Google Maps, need it. 

However, you should act if you see an app you’re unfamiliar with and notice that it uses location services. To check this, follow these steps:

1. Tap on Settings and go to Privacy.

iOS Settings Privacy

2. Open Location Services.

iOS Settings Location Services

3. Check apps with access to location data

Analyze and Delete Browsing Data

If you’re asking, “Can spyware be installed on an iPhone?” the answer is yes, and it often affects your browser adversely. By visiting the infected websites repeatedly, the damage only gets worse. You want to avoid these websites and delete your browser data and history. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Open the Safari app on the bottom part of the screen.

iOS Safari

2. Go to the open book icon. 

iOS Safari Settings

3. Tap the History tab. It looks like a clock icon.

iOS Safari History

4. Swipe left and tap Delete

iOS Safari Delete History

5. Click on Clear to delete your browsing history.

iOS Safari Clear History

6. You can decide whether to delete data from all time, today and yesterday, only today, or within the last hour. 

If Nothing Else Works – Do a Factory Reset

If iPhone spyware detection fails, there’s one last option - a factory reset. We’ll explain how to do this. Remember that all your data will be lost after a factory reset, so it’s vital to backup everything you need. If you want to proceed with a factory reset, follow these simple steps: 

1. Tap on Settings.

iOS Settings

2. Click on General.

iOS settings general

3. Go to Transfer or Reset iPhone near the bottom of the menu.

iOS Transfer or Reset iPhone

4. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.

iOS Erase All Content and Settings

5. Click once more to confirm. 

Is Spyware Dangerous? 

The times we used mobile phones only for calling and texting are long gone. Today, we store multiple vital pieces of information on our phones. Imagine if someone with bad intentions managed to access all of this. So yes, it can be very dangerous, and spyware on your iPhone could cost you thousands.

If you store your personal information on your iPhone and someone gets access to it in real-time, you can quickly become a victim of identity theft. Worse still, some iPhones are used as endpoint devices, so if one company phone is breached, the entire enterprise can fall victim to spyware, and businesses can lose millions of dollars in the process. 

How To Prevent Spyware Infestations

In addition to employing software to scan your iPhone for spyware, you can take some extra precautionary steps to prevent it from ever getting onto your phone in the first place.

Set a PIN

Setting a PIN is a simple solution, but a very effective one since most spyware attacks are made by someone else gaining physical access to your iPhone. If you set a PIN, the attacker won’t have a chance to install anything on your phone unless they trick you into doing it yourself. 

Enable 2FA

2FA, as the name implies (two-factor authentication), sets up two layers of protection. Even if the hackers get the password for your account, they won’t be able to log in without physical access to a 2FA device, providing you have this type of protection turned on.

Use an Anti-Spyware Solution Regularly

Aside from cleaning your iPhone from spyware, anti-spyware solutions work to detect and prevent these attacks from ever happening. You’ll have an option to run regular scans or targeted on-demand hunts for spyware, which can isolate problematic files or directories for easier cleaning.

Best Anti-Spyware Solutions for iPhone

While you can take steps to prevent spyware from getting on your iPhone, a much more practical option is downloading an anti-spyware or antivirus software with features that can help protect your smartphone. Most of these services can prevent and remove spyware, but here’s a quick look at our top three picks:

McAfee Mobile Security 

McAfee is a reputable antivirus company that offers protection for mobile devices, tablets and computers. If you’re asking how to detect spyware on your iPhone, they have an answer. 

Other than protecting devices from spyware, McAfee Mobile security provides iOS users with a range of different security options. These include: 

  • A Wi-Fi scanner,
  • Data breach alerts,
  • VPN with no monthly data cap.

The scanner is pretty handy as it lets you know if you’re connected to an unsafe Wi-Fi network, which is usually one of the public ones with no password. 

When it comes to the VPN, it’s easy to install and use and pretty fast, too. 

Other than that, this antivirus can find any spyware on your iPhone. What’s more, the software actively protects your system, so potential attacks and breaches are stopped before they can do any damage in the first place. Although there are paid plans, you can get McAfee Mobile Security for free, and it will still do a solid job of protecting your device.

Avast One

Avast One is another good choice for protecting your PC and mobile devices. This antivirus software has proven successful in protecting iOS devices against spyware. It offers privacy protection, anti-malware tools, and a VPN with no limits. 

Their website has called it ‘free anti-spyware scanner and remover’, and the company emphasizes that the software is 100% free to use. It will help you check for spyware on your iPhone and remove it if needed. 

The entire check-up process takes just one click. The software has a robust machine-learning system, and the threats are nipped in the bud before they can do any damage to your device. 

Avira

Boasting more than 500 million users across the globe, Avira has been in business for over three decades. Its rich offer also includes spyware protection available for all iOS devices

You can find the anti-spyware cleaner within the Avira Browser Safety package, which comes in the form of an extension for Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. With Avira, iPhone spyware will become a thing of the past for you. Its main feature is blocking unwanted applications, but it also offers an excellent adblocker. 

Conclusion 

Spyware is a serious threat that can affect both individuals and businesses. Private and confidential data can be compromised, causing financial and emotional damage.  Malware attacks are on the rise in 2022, so investing in good anti-spyware is essential in keeping our iPhones safe

You should be safe by following the instructions in our article and ensuring you get yourself some provenly good anti-spyware tools. But, remember, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid visiting shady sites and downloading files from suspicious-looking links.

FAQ
Can I scan my iPhone for spyware?

Yes, several apps can help you scan your phone and check if spyware is installed on it. It’s good to know how to clean your iPhone from spyware in case your device does get infected, but it’s even better not to let that happen in the first place.

How can I tell if there's spyware on my iPhone?

Several signs can tip you off to spyware on your iPhone. They include overheating, drained battery, unusual pop-ups, and excessive data usage.

Can my iPhone be hacked with spyware?

Yes, it can. Although some believe that iPhones cannot be hacked, this is false. Despite Apple’s excellent security measures, crafty hackers have found numerous ways to infect phones with spyware and malware, so don’t assume you’re safe unless you take the proper precautions when using your smartphone.

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