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IPhone virus. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Malware

iPhone virus is a term used to describe malware that affects iPhone devices

The image displaying iOS virus
iPhone virus can sneak into the system undetected and run in its background without any notice.

iPhone virus is malware designed for iOS users. While some users are convinced that is no malware for OS and cannot exist, meanwhile, cyber criminals create actual malicious software for macOS and iOS. Indeed, the percent of malware is much lower than the one designed for Windows and Android. However, there is no doubt that the amount of malware directed to Apple users increased dramatically; thus, denial of the problem will not solve it.

Name  iPhone virus
Versions

Viruses causing Safari redirects

Survey and tech support scams

Browser hijackers

Spyware

Ransomware
Examples

Bing redirect virus, Chrome virus

Win an iPhone X, Congratulations Amazon user, etc.

Search.stuckopoe.com, Chromium virus, Safe Finder, etc.  Pegasus  Patcher ransomware, KillDisk
Danger level Medium Medium Low  High  High
Distribution Malicious websites, bundling  Bundling  Bundling, malicious websites  Phishing Torrent sites, malicious attachments
Symptoms Redirects to dubious websites, sponsored ads, etc. Redirects to dubious and phishing websites, sponsored ads, etc. Hijacked homepage and search engine, altered search results, advertising, redirecting Excessive spying (reading messages and listening to audio files)  Encrypts documents and photos
 Elimination Close the browser down and run a scan with Reimage Close the browser down and run Reimage. You can also clear history and website data Close down the browser and use Reimage to remove the virus Factory reset Factory reset

Despite Mac OS being loved by many users, it is still far less popular than Windows OS.[1] Therefore, the amount of malware created to abuse this operating system is also smaller. However, people still believe in Macs are immune to viruses and that they do not need any anti-virus software to stay safe.

Mac and iOS users are convinced that their devices are immune to iPhone virus due to a few reasons:

  • limited access to system files;
  • fragmented OS;[2]
  • restricted permit for third-party apps.

Unfortunately, iPhone devices are just as vulnerable as other devices. If you are not paying an appropriate attention to your browsing habits and safe browsing practices, you can get infected with ransomware, adware or a browser hijacker within several hours of unsafe browsing. The consequences of getting a virus on iPhone can vary from finding your search preferences mixed up to discovering that your important data was locked.

Let us review the types of malware below. If you are wondering what should you do to perform iPhone virus removal, jump to the last paragraph of this post.

iPhone virus
iPhone virus - a wide list of different threats. Some of them are dangerous trojan horses that pose danger to the victim's personal data. In the meanwhile, others are just scams.

Apple products are targeted by potentially unwanted programs

At the moment, troublesome adware programs and scripts are one of the most prevalent PUPs on the Internet. However, while Windows users report about unstoppable ads on their web browser, iPhone users report about suspicious tech support alerts.[3][4]

Typically, these tech support scams inform their victims that their device was occupied because of a virus which is capable of stealing their data. Additionally, such iPhone virus offers dialing a specific number to contact tech support team, which is a group of hackers who are trying to swindle people's money. Note that Apple does not display such notifications in random messages nor displays a phone number offering its users to contact its team.

We should not also forget a common online scam which offers iPhone devices for free.[5] In this case, scammers collect people's personal information by involving them to nonexistent surveys and contests.

Frustrating pop-ups is yet another common form of iPhone virus. Since they function via a web-script planted into the browser, they might bother you from time to time popping up or bother you every time you launch the browser. Some of them happen to be quite persistent as you need to shut down Safari by force.

Browser hijackers also exist for Apple users. One of the recent samples is search.stuckopoe.com hijacker. While it looks like an ordinary search engine, it collects non-personal information about its users and uses it for “service improvement” purposes. While it displays pop-ups once in a while, the most negative aspect is related to its elimination.

When you enter the page with removal instructions, it offers to install the elimination tool called as Uninstaller.dmg file. The problem is that it is infected with macOS:Genleo-BQ adware. If you use a standard version of Safari on your iPhone, beware of such hijackers. To remove virus from iPhone, you might need resetting your device. To know more, jump to the removal guide that you can find in the end of this post.

Different versions of iPhone scams

As Apple devices are highly valued, multiple iPhone-themed scams started flooding the internet recently. The primary goal of crooks behind these scams is to make victims believe, that they are eligible for a gift from Apple – typically, the newest iPhone, iPad or other devices. Let's check what scammers are up to and dig into the description of each of the frauds.

“The new iPhone X for $1.” This scam offers users a free iPhone X. All they have to do is pay the delivery fee that costs $1. It seems like a great deal! However, it is obviously a fake and users will not get the promised device.

The message is designed to look legitimate as the logos and theme used looks just like the ones from Apple. However, after proceeding, users are redirected to several websites and are finally asked to fill in some personal details and agree to terms of service of the competition. What users do not realize is that they have just subscribed to an expensive music service which costs $49.99 a month. Unless they manually decline the offer, their credit card will be charged monthly because of iPhone virus.

“Win an iPhone X.” Similarly to the above-described scam, this fake message also promises users an iPhone X. Victims might fall into this trap easily, especially those who never encounter digital scams before. The price for this expensive gift is minimal – users merely have to pick the “correct” gift box.

Unsurprisingly, every guess made is always correct (nevertheless, each of the users does not know that and think that they are fortunate). Soon after “guessing correctly” users are congratulated and prompted to enter personal details, such as bank account details, name, phone number and similar data. This information might be used for such serious crimes like identity theft as you can never be sure who you are disclosing your personal data to.

Iphonewinstoday.com scam. Typically, adware is causing redirects to this website. Nonetheless, users are also asked to open the “correct” gift box which gives them a chance to win a brand new iPhone X. Not surprisingly, the gift box is correct again! Then, victims are led to a page where they are required to enter personal details. It is explained that the e-mail address will be used in case the “lucky guest” wins the prize. However, it is merely a trick to extort personal information and use it for illegal purposes, such as identity theft.

Additionally, iPhone virus redirects its victims to iphonewinstoday.com and similar websites that might also promote other fake gifts, such as Samsung Galaxy phones, expensive gift vouchers and similar. Regardless of the prize, none of these false alerts should be trusted.

“You've Been Selected To Test iPhone 9.” is the newest scam which started spreading in March 2018. This hoax offers users a possibility of testing the newest – iPhone 9 – version of iPhone before it reaches public eyes. It is not surprising that any Apple supporter would be extremely excited about such opportunity. What is more, crooks suggest a change of obtaining 128GB iPhone X for free! All they have to do is merely participate in a short survey and answer few questions.

It is evident that questions asked by iPhone virus are only there to create the illusion that participants are actually doing something in exchange for the gift. Soon after finishing the survey, victims are requested to enter their full name, address, email address and telephone number. 

It is clear that Apple is not behind these messages and would never look for participants in such way. Thus, do not trust this fake pop-up if you encounter it.

Regardless which scam you encounter – never participate in it. Remember, when the deal sounds too good to be true – it usually is. All crooks want is your money or personal data. Thus, ignore these scams and uninstall adware causing these messages. 

Pegasus malware practices an excessive spying on Apple users

This spying software is one of the best illustrating samples that Apple, especially iOS devices, can be infected with malware and, in fact, one of the most daunting. It has been spotted in August 2016. The malware is suspected to have been developed by an Israeli company NSO group[6] which has been notoriously known for developing spyware.

The malware does not target random targets, but only selected users. They receive deceptive SMS messages with links. If clicked, they would download the spyware designed for non-jailbroken iPhone devices. It functions on the basis of three zero-day day vulnerabilities.

Once it gets activated fully, it would exert a complete surveillance on a user. It spies both, easily accessible and encrypted, messages as well as it can listen to audio files. Another problem is that it is capable of self-destructing if it does not connect to a remote Command and Control server for 60 days. The malware developers also designed an Android counterpart of Pegasus malware.

Due to the elaborate behavior and structure, it is quite troublesome to detect this malware. It does not reveal any of its presence signs in the Activity Monitor, let alone iPhone devices which do not have such tool. You will need to download additional programs for detection and perform certain steps. More information on Pegasus removal is provided here.

Ransomware developers are interested in iOS too

As Android ransomware has become a common trend, one can assume that the time will come for iPhone devices as well. Such suspicions are not completely irrational as a few of Mac ransomware samples were already released into the cyber space. One of them pretends to be a tool called “Patcher” created for pirating software purposes[7]. It is written with the Swift programming language.

The malware was distributed via BitTorrent domains. It operates similarly to Windows-based crypto-malware as it hides in a .zip folder. The malware was not properly programmed as it had “buggy” transparent looks and failed managing decryption keys, which eventually resulted in the loss of decryption possibility.

Unfortunately, it still encrypted users documents and photos. Though such malware samples have been found targeting Mac, iPhone users should become wary as well.

iPhone scam
iPhone virus can also be a scam seeking to trick the user into believing that governmental authorities noticed his or her illegal activity on the web. Such threats can also be added to screenlocker category.

Prevent malware infections on your device

Different malware threats are distributed via different channels. Earlier discussed iPHone adware and hijackers are spread via web scripts. Since they are not visible for ordinary users, detecting them might be troublesome. On the other hand, you can limit the probability of such iPhone virus by avoiding to click on the links placed in the websites with gaming, gambling or other dubious content.

Regarding more elaborate malware, iPhone users may find this advice useful:

  • Update system software once the update are released
  • Do not download unnecessary third-party apps

Now let us discuss iPhone virus removal options.

Delete all threats which could damage your iPhone

If pop-ups plagued your phone, reset the browser and remove virus from iPhone in this way. Don't worry, adware and browser hijackers are not as aggressive as ransomware viruses. In case of a tech support scam, exit the page. If you cannot cancel it, force a shutdown on a browser. In order to cease the redirect from activating itself again, perform these steps:

  1. Go to Settings;
  2. Tap on Safari icon;
  3. Select Clear History and Website Data;
  4. Close the window.

If dealing with more serious threat, remove iPhone virus with the help of Reimage or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. If you notice unusual behavior on your phone, such as crashing apps or locked files, perform iPhone factory reset. For this iPhone virus removal option, use this guide:

  1. Go to Settings;
  2. Navigate to General;
  3. Tap on Erase All Contents option.

You can remove virus damage automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. We recommend these applications because they detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove iPhone virus, follow these steps:

Mac OS XSafari

Erase iPhone from Mac OS X system

MacOS users have a certain advantage over iPHone users as they can install certain security apps to delete exquisite malware.

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for iPhone or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'
Mac OS XSafari

Uninstall iPhone from Safari

Clear browsing data to cease the annoying iPhone virus pop-ups from appearing again.

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for iPhone or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Open your Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu section. Here, select Preferences as it was displayed previously and select General.
  4. Here, look at the Homepage field. If it was altered by iPhone, remove unwanted link and enter the one that you want to use for your searches. Remember to include the "http://" before typing in the address of the page. When in 'General', delete malicious URL and enter your desired domain name
  5. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  6. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete iPhone removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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References

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