The iPhone isn't the world's most popular smartphone simply without reason. The fact remains that the various iterations of the iPhone continually rank above its competitors in terms of speed and overall performance.
Yet another area where the iPhone is generally superior is in terms of security. The security of its devices has long been one of Apple's biggest priorities, and the iPhone is without a doubt one of the most secure smartphones currently on the market. However, this doesn't mean that iPhone security is perfect, and in fact, the iPhone is still prone to viruses just as any other mobile device.
The iPhone's superior security means that iPhone viruses are quite rare. Nonetheless, the fact remains that your iPhone still could potentially be infected by malware. Therefore, it is essential that as an iPhone owner you understand the risks that malware poses and what steps you can take to keep your iPhone safe.
A Brief Intro to iPhone Viruses
Malware—technically 'malicious software'—is a term that's applied to viruses and other programs that negatively affect the performance of any computer, including the one found in your iPhone and other mobile devices. Although it typically tends to be more associated with PCs and Windows devices, malware can also affect Macs, iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices.
As with any other computer, your phone can be infected with malware by opening infected emails, visiting infected websites or downloading third-party apps and software. Once installed, malware can be incredibly difficult to find; let alone remove. In fact, many times you won't even know that your computer is infected. Check out our guide for the best antivirus software of the year.
iPhone malware can be a serious problem that can have a huge impact on your phone's performance and also on your privacy. Depending on the type of malware, the program could gain access to your camera and GPS to track your movements and spy on you. As well, it could view and track your browsing history or lock you out of certain apps. There's even a chance you could be locked out of your phone entirely.
Securing Your iPhone Against Malware
One of the reasons that iPhones are so secure is that Apple takes a number of precautionary steps to ensure your phone stays safe. This includes encrypting all iMessages and strict security screenings for all App Store offerings. The fact that you're required to put in your password in order to download any new apps adds another layer of security to prevent unwanted programs from being installed.
The problem is that hackers are constantly searching for any potential cracks in Apple's security that they can exploit. No software is perfect and these cracks are always bound to be there. Still, Apple continually tries to stay one step ahead of hackers by regularly releasing new versions of iPhone software and patches in an effort to prevent your phone from being infected.
However, the only way to take advantage of this is to keep your iPhone software up to date. Luckily, this is extremely easy. Simply go to Settings, General and then Software Update to check your phone for updates. If you do see that there's an update available, make sure to download and install it as soon as you're connected to WiFi (downloading an update over 4G is a quick way to use up all your data).
Websites are a common source of malware, and simply loading an infected page is usually all it takes for your iPhone to get a virus. This makes it essential that you pay attention to what pages you're visiting and never download anything from an unfamiliar website. If a website does prompt you to download anything, make sure to close the browser window as tapping anywhere on the website could start the download.
Only Open Messages From Those You Know
Text messages, push notifications and emails can also potentially be sources of malware, meaning you should never open any messages from someone you don't know. In this case, it is especially important not to click any links or download any files as these could easily lead to a malware infection.
Never Jailbreak or Root Your Phone
Rooting or jailbreaking your phone may give you greater access and control over it, but it also bypasses most of Apple's built-in security measures. Similarly, jailbreaking also gives you the ability to download unapproved apps and these apps could easily contain a virus since they haven't had to pass through Apple's security screening.
Not only will jailbreaking void your iPhone's warranty, but it also makes your phone much more susceptible to malware. So just don't do it.
The fact that iPhones are at least somewhat susceptible to viruses leads many people to wonder whether iPhones need anti-virus software. In truth, Apple's security measures are generally sufficient to keep your phone safe as long as you make sure to follow all of the tips listed above. However, it still doesn't hurt to install a reputable anti-virus software like McAfee or Norton just to be extra safe.
Although iPhones can and do get viruses, in reality, the chances of your phone being infected with malware are quite slim. As long as you make sure to keep your iPhone software up-to-date and be diligent about not opening messages from unknown senders or downloading anything from unfamiliar websites, you should be able to enjoy all of the benefits your iPhone provides without having to worry too much about viruses.
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