How to Remove Malware from Android? [All You Need to Know]
Updated · Jul 19, 2022
We can all agree computer viruses are a total pain.
Malicious software, also called malware, is a type of program that seeks to compromise your device in a harmful way. There are many types out there.
Here’s the best part - it’s not only PCs that get infected.
In this article, we will discuss how to remove malware from Android. Furthermore, the potential steps you can take to protect yourself from malicious attacks.
Want to keep your device and data safe?
Read on and I’ll tell you just how to do it.
Do Android Phones Get Malware?
In fact, Android phones are more vulnerable than iPhones, due to the fact they can install apps from outside their respective app store.
But does that mean the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store are perfectly safe?
Just recently, we’ve seen reports of over half a million users downloading malicious apps straight from the Play Store. The ‘Joker’ Android virus essentially conducts billing fraud by secretly subscribing you to multiple paid services. This is known as ‘fleeceware,’ and can charge you thousands of dollars without telling you.
And that’s just one example.
Behind the scenes, thousands of mobile apps per day get blocked by app stores around the world. And with the vast majority of the world’s population owning a mobile device, these attacks are likely to increase.
Does all this make you nervous?
It’s good to be cautious, but there’s no need to panic.
Here are some ways you can check for malware on your Android device.
How Do I Know If My Phone is Having a Virus?
Any sudden, abnormal behaviour, like your phone running slower, or seeing a lot more ads than usual, may be a sign of malware. Other viruses may target your energy consumption or battery life. Or maybe you see new apps on your home screen you don’t remember installing.
Though keep in mind, the things listed above do not definitively mean you are infected.
On the other hand, if you see your phone bill shoot up all of a sudden, and for no obvious reason, take action immediately.
Here’s how to check your Android for viruses:
How Do I Check for Malware on my Android?
So let’s say you see your phone is behaving not as it should and you’re suspecting it might be infected.
- Get antivirus software - Like with computer viruses, the best way to keep an eye out for your device’s health is through antivirus programs. The Play Store has a selection of many antiviruses, plenty of which you might already be familiar with. AVG, Avast, Malwarebytes, among others, all have dedicated Android versions.
- Scan your device - a virus scan of your Android should come with every good antivirus software. It will look through your device’s files, searching for any sign of malware.
- Check the results - after a few minutes, the scan should be finished. If your device has any suspicious files on it, you will be notified and advised on what to do. If nothing gets detected, great! You’re likely in the clear.
How to Remove Malware from Android?
Removing malware can be a tricky business sometimes, depending on the type. Here are a few tips on how to remove a virus from Android.
Check Your Antivirus
Most antivirus software will automatically detect any files on your device which may cause harm. If that’s the case, then you will be automatically notified of any potential problems.
Sometimes, you’ll need to scan your device manually. Many antivirus programs have an option for a quick scan, as well as a slower, but more thorough one. If you suspect you might have a virus but the program isn’t picking anything up, run a slow scan just to make sure.
How to remove malware from Android once the scan has detected malicious files?
One way is to quarantine them. What does this mean?
This results in the potentially malicious file being moved to a location which can be managed by the antivirus software. It is not being outright deleted. Rather, it is isolated from the rest of the system so the malware can’t spread anywhere else.
Why would you want to do that?
As opposed to flat-out deletion, quarantined files can still be used. Sometimes, Android malware detection can issue false flags. When that happens, files that aren’t actually malware get labeled as such.
But how do you know what is real malware and what isn’t?
When you’re in doubt, you can select to quarantine the file instead of deleting it. Just in case it’s a file you actually need, and not something that’s intending to cause harm.
Dealing with a particularly nasty file that you’re certain you want gone?
In that case, it would be best to simply remove it from your system. If you’re wondering how to get rid of adware on a phone - this is it.
It can also help against ransomware attacks - though that depends on the type of malware.
Normally, files that are quarantined by the antivirus get automatically deleted after a while anyway. And it’s a good middle ground whenever you’re unsure if it is really a virus.
How to Keep Your Android Devices Safe?
You may already know how to remove a virus from your Android, but the best course of action is always preventative.
We have a few tips on how to avoid infections in the first place:
Turn on background checks
Antivirus apps like Kaspersky have a neat feature called ‘background check.’ It automatically alerts you whenever a malicious file has landed on your device. It all happens behind the scenes, so no action is required on your part.
Why do this?
It provides you with 24/7 protection of everything new that comes onto your system. It also minimizes the risk of something slipping through the cracks.
Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the occasional malware removal and scans. This is simply yet another layer of protection to keep you safe.
Update your phone regularly
Updates are often overlooked.
But the reality is that they are integral to keeping your device safe. By keeping your operating system out of date, you are exposed to security vulnerabilities. That’s exactly what ransomware and other types of cyber attacks rely on.
If you see an update available for your phone, you might feel tempted to delay installing it. But don’t. Updates are designed to fix security flaws and keep you safe from attacks.
Update your apps
Similar to your system updates, the best free virus protection for Android is simply patching up your device.
Do not ignore app updates. Much like Android’s own updates, they are meant to make your phone more secure.
Enable two-factor authentication
A bit of a less direct method of combating attacks is via two-factor authentication (2FA for short).
Why do that?
2FA makes it so even if someone figures out your password, they still would need physical access to your phone to log in. And with modern methods, password cracking can be easier than you think.
Setting up 2FA acts as a sort of Android virus protection, as it restricts potential cyber attacks from accessing your data.
Stay away from dodgy websites
Most virus threats for Android devices lie in suspicious websites. It pays to use common sense in these situations. Don’t click on any pop-up windows saying you won something, or download apps from untrustworthy sources.
It’s best to stick to the Google Play Store for downloading apps.
If you absolutely have to download something from a third-party website? Make sure you have an antivirus that can detect malware on your Android phone.
Even then, proceed at your own risk.
Check your app permissions
You know how whenever you install an app, it would ask you for access to various places on your phone?
Sometimes, there can be a valid reason for that.
For example, if you’ve downloaded a camera app, it’s normal for it to ask for permission to access your camera.
But other times, things can get a little bit suspicious. If you feel like an app is asking for a bit too much and you’re not sure why, either deny it permission, or just delete it. Especially if it’s one you’re unfamiliar with.
After all, better to be safe than to have to fish for a virus cleaner for Android afterwards.
Keep an eye out for phishing
Phishing is a funny word, but if you fall victim to one, you wouldn’t be laughing.
We’ve all seen spam emails that claim you’ve won some outrageous sum of money, or something similar.
But the senders are getting smarter by the day.
Viruses on Android devices can be transmitted via SMS, as well as email. They come in the form of links that ask you to enter your personal information.
As always - use common sense. Never click on links that ask you for your credentials, even if it’s from a company you think you might be affiliated with.
Got an email or text from your bank saying your account has been compromised?
Don’t click on the link in the message. Go to the website yourself and verify whether what you’re being told is true.
Nowadays, knowing how to detect malware on an Android phone is a useful skill to have. Knowing how to protect yourself from infections in the first place? Even more so.
So what can you do?
Check if your phone has been infected. Download a malware scanner app and run some checks. Furthermore, look for warning signs.
For instance, if you’re seeing advertisements all over the place, you’ve likely fallen victim to adware. Any abnormal behaviour can be a symptom.
How to get rid of adware and other viruses on your phone?
Install an antivirus app and see if it picks up anything of malicious nature. If it does, put those files in quarantine, or better yet, delete them from your system. If that doesn’t help, you can try a factory reset as a last line of defense.
If this all sounds like a miserable experience to you, you’d be right.
Which is why it’s best to take preventative measures and avoid infections altogether.
The most important thing you can do is update your apps and Android OS regularly.
Also, watch out for suspicious links. Scareware disguises itself as fake system messages telling you to download some virus removal app. Phishing emails have links which ask you to input your personal information which then gets sent directly to hackers.
Whenever you see something that looks suspicious - it probably is. Use common sense and don’t click on anything that looks like a scam.
If you happen to fall victim to any of these attacks, your data may be at risk of getting stolen. That’s why knowing how to remove malware from Android is valuable.
Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.
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