How to Find & Remove Spyware From iPhone or Mac

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The threat of spyware lurks around every corner, posing a greater risk to your privacy and security. And just like other devices, iPhones and Macs aren’t immune to malicious activities and cyber threats like spyware.

As recently as 2021, Apple issued emergency security updates to close a spyware flaw in their products. Researchers at the citizen lab found that an Israeli company had infected Apple products with advanced spyware.

If you’re an iPhone or Mac user, you need to be proactive in safeguarding your devices against spyware. In this article, we’ll delve into how to find and remove spyware from your iPhone and Mac, empowering you to enhance your digital security.

Understanding iPhone and Mac spyware

Spyware is a stealthy threat to your iPhone and Mac privacy. It’s malicious software that discreetly infiltrates your device, tracking your activities and relaying sensitive data to unauthorized individuals.

If left unchecked, spyware can significantly compromise your digital autonomy. And for you to safeguard your personal information, you need to understand how many forms it occurs and the risks posed.

Several forms of spyware can target your iPhone or Mac. These include:

1.   Common-or-garden-variety spyware

This spyware comes in the form of an app that installs itself secretly on your device. It’s a creation of cybercriminals who control it remotely by signing in to an app or website. Once installed, common-or-garden-variety spyware will covertly track your activities, giving unauthorized access to your data.

2.   iCloud spyware attacks

iCloud spyware attacks occur when a hacker gains access to your login details and starts monitoring everything you do on your device. This information allows them a platform to compromise your privacy and security potentially.

How to detect spyware on your iPhone and Mac

Spyware often operates silently, making it crucial to identify signs of infection. Here are simple steps to effectively detect and identify spyware on both your Apple devices:

1.   Check for questionable apps

Review the list of all installed apps on both your iPhone and Mac. Look out for suspicious applications that need to be put in the right place. Spyware often disguises itself as legitimate apps, so stay vigilant and investigate any apps that raise suspicion.

2.   Review app permissions

Examine the permissions granted to each app on your iPhone and Mac. It could be a red flag if you encounter an app with excessive permissions that don’t align with its intended functionality. Take caution, especially of apps that request access to sensitive information or system-level controls.

3.   Use security apps

The Appstore has a range of reputable security apps that can assist you in detecting spyware on your iPhone and Mac. Consider downloading and running these apps for additional protection against spyware.

4.   Monitor device activity

Monitor your device’s activity and check its battery, data, and CPU usage. You’ll be better placed to identify any sudden or unexplained changes that indicate the presence of spyware.

Here are simple steps to check battery and data usage on your iPhone:

  1. Navigate to the Settings
  1. Go to Battery to analyse your battery drain.

Use Mac’s built-in Activity Monitor Application to monitor CPU usage. Press the X in the upper menu to quit an energy-consuming process.

5.   Inspect device profiles

Hackers can install malicious profiles on your iPhone and Mac, granting unauthorized access and control. To check for spyware through profiles, follow these steps:

On your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on General
  1. Go to Profiles & Device Management (VPN & Device Management in newer iOS versions).

Do the same for your Mac through the System Preferences and then go to the Profiles section. Remove all the suspicious profiles you didn’t create to ensure the security of your device.

6.   Scan for unusual network connections

Spyware often relies on external servers to transmit collected data. One of the best approaches here is to leverage network monitoring tools to scan for spyware on your iPhone and Mac. These tools can help you identify suspicious or unauthorized network connections.

How to get rid of spyware on your iPhone and Mac

So, you’ve managed to check your iPhone and Mac for spyware and, unfortunately, found one. What’s next? Here are the key steps you should follow to safeguard the devices.

Delete all the suspicious apps

Remove any apps associated with the spyware on your device. Here is what to do to remove an app on your iPhone:

  1. Press and hold the App icon on your iPhone until it starts to wiggle
  2. Proceed to tap the Remove App option in the icon’s corner.

The process is pretty simple on your Mac. Just drag the suspicious app from the Applications folder to the Trash.

Update your operating systems

Apple’s iOS and macOS regularly release updates that address security vulnerabilities and enhance overall device protection. Ensure your device is running the latest iOS or macOS versions.

On your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on General
  3. Go to Software Update.

Check for and install any available updates

On your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Click on Software Update.

Use anti-malware software

It’s advisable to utilize reliable anti-malware software such as antivirus for Mac to increase your defense against spyware attacks. This software conducts thorough scans to detect and eliminate spyware and protect you from potential data breaches and Wi-Fi attacks.

Perform a factory reset on your device

Some of the options shared above may fail to address your spyware concerns. In this case, performing a factory reset on your device could be the only viable option. Factory resetting involves erasing all data and settings on your device, effectively eliminating any lingering spyware.

Here’s how to perform a factory reset on your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on General
  3. Go to Transfer or Reset iPhone
  1. Click Erase All Content and Settings.

For Mac, do the following:

  1. Go to the Apple menu
  2. Choose System Preferences
  3. In the upper menu, click Erase All Content and Settings.

Final thoughts

A spyware attack on your iPhone or Mac can be an unsettling experience. However, don’t panic, as it’s the work of hackers trying to infiltrate your device for malicious purposes. Follow the above tips for removing spyware from your iPhone and Mac and establish a safe and secure digital environment for your devices. Remember that the privacy and security of your devices should always be your top priority. So, take immediate action in the event of a spyware attack.


Picture of Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

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