Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware?

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Malware is out to get you. It’s a sad and unfortunate truth: regardless of your device, becoming infected with malware is a very real possibility when software installation is involved. For a long time, malware was isolated to Windows due to its dominance in the computer market, eventually moving on to infect Mac and Linux computers (to a lesser degree). Now, malware presents a threat to mobile devices, including Android. Are you prepared?

The immediate question is, how does malware get on an Android device in the first place? After all, most users only install apps through the Play Store, and Google keeps a tight watch over that to make sure malware doesn’t squeeze through, right? Not entirely. Suspicious apps have been known to make it onto the Play Store. And then there’s the whole issue with using a third-party app distributor to install cracked apps, which can also result in malware.

Is your Android infected without you knowing? If so, how can you cleanse your device of these impurities? And how can you keep yourself protected in the future? Keep reading to find out.

Signs of Android Malware Infection

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Just as on a computer, there are some warning signs that can alert you to the presence of a malware infection on an Android device. The gist of it is this: if something begins acting out of the ordinary and you haven’t made any significant changes to your device, the problem might be malware related.

  • Unexplained data usage. A lot of malware exists to collect data: account details, credit card numbers, contacts lists, etc. Once it has this information, the malware app needs to relay it back to whoever created that malware – and in most cases, this information transfer will result in strange spikes in data usage.
  • Poor phone performance. Depending on the age of your device and the severity of malware infection, your phone’s performance might take a hit. If you experience a slowing down, you might have a malware infection – especially if a reboot doesn’t alleviate the problem.
  • Reduced battery life. Since most malware are designed to sit in the background and run all day long, you may notice a dip in your battery life. More severe cases of malware will kill your battery faster than mild cases.
  • Dropped phone calls. Sometimes your calls will drop due to poor service. Other times, the culprit could be malware interference. Most of the time, poor service will be the right answer, but when you start dropping more calls than normal, it could be indicative of malware.

Removing Malware From Android

android-malware-apps

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The best way to remove malware from an Android would be to, unsurprisingly, install a malware removal app. Just be sure to install a reputable one. How silly would it be if you accidentally installed malware while trying to install a malware remover? Here are some free ones that you may want to check out:

  • 360 Mobile Security: 360 can scan your device, whether manually or automatic, and provide protection based on its ever-updated cloud database of threats. It can detect vulnerabilities on your device and optimize your settings. It’s quick, to the point, and effective – not to mention the fact that it has one of the most beautiful app interfaces I’ve ever seen. For a deeper look, check out Erez’s 360 Mobile Security review.
  • avast! Mobile Security: avast! can scan your device manually or according to schedule. When browsing, it will detect and block malware-infected links, and it will monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic for threats. Other advanced features include anti-theft measures, a built-in firewall, and SMS/call filtering.
  • AVG AntiVirus Security: AVG’s app will scan all new files and apps for potential threats, including malware, spyware, and viruses. On top of that, it can identify insecure settings and provide tips for plugging security holes. There are also some advanced features, like traffic monitoring and anti-theft measures.

Keeping Your Android Free of Malware

android-malware-protect

The only way to completely prevent malware on your Android is to never download any apps, never plug the Android into a computer, and pretty much live in a bubble for the remainder of the device’s lifetime. Well, that’s not exactly practical, so here are some tips you should know to minimize the chances of contracting malware.

  • Check app reviews. When you find a new app to download, always read the reviews first. If the app is problematic in any way, some of the reviews will make note of it and you can move on. If the app doesn’t have any reviews, you may want to steer clear until it does.
  • Check developer’s track record. Okay, so let’s say there’s an app you really want but there are no reviews on it and you don’t feel like waiting. You can always check the developer’s other apps to see if they have a reputable track record. If this is their first app, though, you’re back to square one and your best bet is to be safe than sorry.
  • Be wary of third-party app markets. The truth is, all app markets have some degree of risk to them. If the Play Store can let slip a few malware apps, then it’s safe to assume that no app markets are completely safe. At the very least, stick to the reputable ones like the Amazon Appstore.
  • Be careful when granting Superuser privileges. For those of you who have rooted your Android devices, make sure you limit Superuser privileges only to the apps you trust 100%. If you grant Superuser access to every app that asks for it, then you’re just asking for malware to gain full control of your device.
  • Run malware scans regularly. This shouldn’t be a problem if you installed one of the apps above since they all have the ability to schedule scans. But whatever you choose to use, be sure to make a routine out of scanning, whether it’s once a day or once a week.

Conclusion

Now, with all of that said, don’t freak out. Many happy Android users have gone years without ever contracting malware, so it’s not like you’ll find it around every corner just waiting to jump you. However, it’s always good to be prudent when it comes to security and it’s better to know about it than bumble along in ignorance. Take heed and keep your Android device safe!

How else do you fight and protect yourself against Android malware? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Image Credit: Diagnose Android Via Shutterstock, Virus Shield Via Shutterstock

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Comments (28)
  • Jan Paolo Ofiana

    im going to try and do this now, since my android tablet might have been infected by a malware or something. cause when i opened it there was a quick launcher installed already and a couple of apps that i didn’t eve downloaded. in the first place.

  • David Marshall

    Try force stop and then disable

  • David Marshall

    Daily racing app is a virus and will not uninstall. I have tried AVG, AVAST and Mailwarebytes, they all pick it up as a virus, they say its been uninstalled but then it comes back and says it is not installed but again it comes back.

    • Robert Cheetham

      I have this too, did you find out how to get rid of it? Or even where it came from?

    • David Marshall

      Yes, in my case Daily racing it was coming in through Snappea. As soon as I uninstalled Snappea Daily racing could be uninstalled but as soon as I reinstalled snappea again Daily racing came back. I have decided not to use Snappea any more.

    • Robert Cheetham

      Yes I eventually tracked it down to snap pea, which is a real shame as I liked the product functionality enough that I would even pay for it. I emailed them complaining but I don’t expect a reply. :(

    • David Marshall

      Yes your right SNAP PEA is a good program apart from the unwanted installs.

      I installed ”Ad network detector” which scans your Android phone or tablet for the presence of ad networks on your device. This app has eliminated all the adverts which kept appearing.

    • David Marshall

      Looks like your email to SNAP PEA has had a result. I am running a new install of SNAP PEA and it is not downloading any unwanted games, so far.

    • David Marshall

      No it’s back again. SNAP PEA definitely installs DAILY RACING and ‘PERFECT CLEANER which uses a lot of internet data and CLEAN MASTER.

    • Robert Cheetham

      What a shame, you had given me hope. :( Thanks for letting me know.

  • Rob

    Malware on my Samsung android tablet won’t let me boot into the main system. How do I fix this? Please reply to robhamm42@gmail.com. Thanks

    • Jack Larkin

      Try booting into safe mode. Hit Power, and then when you see the screen turn on hold Vol Up and Vol Down until you arrive at your lock screen. All 3rd party apps should be disabled. From there you might be able to remove it. Another way of entering safe mode is to hold your finger down on the Power Off dialog until it gives you the option, but you have to be booted for it to work. Good luck!

  • Rod

    My phone a malware that locked my phone claiming to be from FBI and demanding that I pay a $500.00 penalty to avoid prosecution on several charges. Even being accused of these types of charges could destroy anybody’s life, even a person that leads a spotless crime free life. This malware is even one listed on the FBI’s site. First, how do I get past their lockout in order to run any software to “cleanse” my device. Secondly, why isn’t more being done to the perps ruining internet and peoples lives? Especially when those that are put in place to protect us are obviously fully aware it is happening. Please I need help!

    • Brian

      Rod the way to remove the power of your device is go to the Play Store from a computer until the computer to install a Trojan removal app to the device that has virus on it the one I used was made by avg I believe clean master makes one as well don’t just install the AVG antivirus it has to be a virus removal tools search for that in the Play Store of your computer of course you have to be logged into Google on that computer

    • Brian

      The virus not the power sorry, voice to text error.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.