How to Find and Remove Malware on Your Android Device
We use our smartphones for virtually everything these days: working, shopping, banking, booking, and, of course, communicating with friends and family.
Can you imagine how much information these devices contain? They are treasure troves of sensitive data that could put you at risk if they fall into the wrong hands.
So with this in mind, it’s high time you learned how to avoid malware on Android.
Let us guide you through:
- Types of Android malware
- How Android malware can damage your phone
- Signs of malware on Android
- Ways to check for malware on Android
- Tips to get rid of malware on Android
Types of Android malware
We understand you want to immediately know how to remove viruses from your Android phone. But what people generally call an Android virus is usually a particular form of malware. It’s always good to know what you’re up against to work out the best ways to get rid of it, so here’s a short list of known Android malware:
Adware displays third-party ads in the form of an icon, notification message, or pop-up message. They show up frequently and may serve as an open door to other malicious software.
Dubbed as the ‘devil in disguise’, a trojan appears to be a standard app. However, behind the scenes, it may be providing access to other malware, changing your system settings, or spying on you.
This Android malware locks you out of your device and demands a ransom to grant you access. The attackers may then threaten to compromise your sensitive data.
This malware can monitor your Android activities, track your location, and harvest your data. It will then pass your sensitive information to people or agencies that may use it for malicious purposes.
What can Android malware do to your phone?
Different types of malware affect phones in various ways, so don’t hesitate to remove malware from your Android if you know it’s there.
Often, scammers have different goals including stealing your personal information, financial records, or contact lists for their own use or to sell this data on the dark web.
Alongside this, malware can gravely impact your device’s performance. The system may significantly slow down, making everyday use frustrating and borderline unbearable.
Signs of malware on Android device
The following Android virus symptoms will help tip you off if you feel something’s not right:
- Your phone tends to overheat
- The battery drains faster than usual
- Pop-up ads frequently appear
- You encounter unusual ads that are sometimes ’too personal’
- Phone performance is too slow
- Apps are taking too long to open, not opening at all, or crashing
- You find apps you don’t remember downloading
- You receive bloated phone bills
- You see an unexplained increase in data usage
Be extra wary of the following:
- Your device is rooted
- Your Android OS has stopped receiving updates
- Your Android OS is not updated to the latest version despite being compatible
How to check for malware on Android
Beyond just looking out for symptoms, you need to learn how to find malware on Android.
Follow these simple steps:
- Go to the Google Play Store app
- Open the menu button. You can do this by tapping on the three-line icon found in the top-left corner of your screen
- Select Play Protect
- Tap Scan. Your device will start checking for Android malware
- If your device uncovers harmful apps, it will provide an option for removal
Don’t just manually sca your Android device. You can offer yourself more protection by setting up automatic scanning for your phone to ensure you are alerted anytime malware invades the system. To do this, simply tap the gear icon located in the top-right corner of the Play Protect window. Make sure both sliders are switched on or set to green.
How to get rid of malware on Android
If your smartphone has become infected with malware without any antivirus app installed, don’t panic: there are several steps you can take to remove it. However, they may require a basic knowledge of the Android system.
Remove all unused and suspicious apps
If you noticed several symptoms we’ve mentioned, but your phone is still functioning, take a thorough look at your list of apps. Malware could be hiding there.
- Scrutinise any recently installed apps. If you’re unsure about the app’s security, do some basic research: look for reviews on Google Play Store or just Google the app’s name. Usually, this should be enough to determine if the app is reliable and check if other users have had any issues.
- Remove apps you don’t use. Only keep the apps you need. If there’s a doc reader or a face scanner you installed a while ago and only used once, then delete it.
- Uninstall apps you don’t remember installing. These are the most likely suspects in wreaking havoc on your Android device. For the love of all things digital, please remove them.
Clear your downloads
Unlike iOS, Android OS allows you to download various files from the internet. This is a useful feature, but it also poses risks to your device: you can accidentally download malware. It’s important to keep your folder of downloads in order and free from suspicious or unnecessary files.
If your Android device is failing to respond, freezing, or not allowing you to open anything, then you need to resort to more advanced steps.
Remove malware in safe mode
Safe mode allows you to turn off any third-party apps and services, giving you a chance to disable malware as well.
Remember, if you use any custom launchers, your phone will look different while in safe mode. Don’t be scared — your home screen icons will return after the reboot. The only thing affected will be the home screen widgets — those will be removed. So, before proceeding to safe mode, we recommend taking a screenshot of your home screen so you can quickly restore widgets after booting back to normal mode.
Steps to enter the safe mode can vary for different device models, but the most common ones are these:
- Press and hold the power button until you see the Power off option
- Tap and hold the power button until you see the prompt to Reboot to safe mode
- Tap OK, then wait until your device restarts
- When your phone boots up, you will see the Safe Mode watermark at the bottom. This indicates you booted up in safe mode successfully
- Open Settings on your device by tapping the gear-like icon from the list of apps
- Tap Apps & notifications or a similarly named setting that manages apps
- Check the apps list carefully and remove anything suspicious: tap the app’s name and select Uninstall
- If you stumble upon an unknown suspicious app you can’t remove, chances are it’s the intruder you’re looking for. First, disable the app by tapping Disable
- Get back to the Settings main screen and look for a function that allows administrating your apps. Usually, it’s called Device admin apps
- Find the intruder in the list and turn off the toggle next to it. The toggle should now turn gray
- After that, go back to Apps, select the potential malware, and tap Uninstall
- Press and hold the power button again. Then select Reboot to go back to normal mode.
If these don’t work for your device, consult the manufacturer’s guide.
Get rid of pop-up ads and redirects from your browser
If your device keeps being redirected to unwanted websites or pop-up ads keep showing up, you will have to reset your mobile browser to its default settings. This is an action you should only perform if all other steps have failed to solve the problem. Unlike Windows and Mac computers, Android doesn’t have any settings restoration built into its browsers.
To reset browser settings on Android, you will have to clear the application data. This way, you will be able to remove all the saved caches, site settings, and cookies.
To return your Chrome browser to its factory settings:
- Open the Settings menu by tapping on the gear icon
- Select App. This will show all the installed applications
- Look for the Chrome app, and tap on it
- Select Storage from the Chrome’s app info menu
- Under the storage settings, select Manage storage
- You can now tap Clear all data. This will delete accounts, bookmarks, and other Chrome data
- A pop-up will ask you to confirm the restoration process.Then tap OK
Install a mobile privacy and security app on your phone
With cybercriminals always on the lookout for new ways to invade our privacy and steal data, your best efforts will never be enough. This is why the most effective way to protect your device is by installing a trustworthy antimalware app. Something like Clario’s privacy and security app.
Simple yet powerful, Clario’s mobile app combines advanced cybersecurity solutions with expert human assistance. You won’t have to wade through tech jargon because our experts are the security-savvy friends you’ve always wanted to have, available 24/7. With Clario backing you up, you won’t have to worry about unsafe browsing or unsecured connections — just surf the web and enjoy.
* * *
Learning how to stop malware on an Android phone starts with awareness and preventive measures. So, to protect your device against future risks:
- Invest in quality mobile security
- Keep operating systems and software updated
- Refrain from clicking on unfamiliar links in emails and texts
- Select strong passwords or use a password manager
- Steer clear of unsecured Wi-Fi connections. If you need to connect to a public hotspot, use a VPN
- Only install apps from trusted sources like the Google Play Store
- Take the time to read the fine print and app permissions to stay aware of the access you are providing to app developers
And if you want to stay in the loop about the latest tips on how to get rid of malware on Android and be one step ahead of cybercriminals, make sure to read Clario’s blog. Prevention is always better than cure.
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