How to Remove Malware from Android
Android OS is an operating system developed by Google and used by the majority of mobile devices sold on the consumer market. In terms of security Android is much safer to use than its Windows counterpart – but it is by no means impenetrable. This article will provide you with all the necessary information on how to remove malware from an Android phone or tablet.
If you are seeing a larger-then-usual number of Ads on your Android device, then the most likely reason behind them is a malware App that has been installed. Another possibility is an android system malware, but these are quite rare and you need Google to fix them first before you will be able to do anything on your own.
- Keeping your Android device up to date with the latest updates is vital for its security! Keeping threats out is easier than trying to perform android malware removal instructions afterwards!
Signs of an Android Malware infection
If you are unsure of whether your phone/tablet is really infected by an Android Malware, please look through the following symptoms. One could be a coincidence caused by another problem, but more than one likely points to a Malware loaded into your device.
- Poor battery life – you are already accustomed to your phone and you have a general idea of how long the battery should last when fully charged. This time will gradually reduce over time due to the age of the battery, but any sudden drops point to added consumption – likely from a malware associated hidden process.
- Call quality problems – if your phone calls are suffering from poor call quality and sometimes the connection breaks (and there are no issues with are coverage of course) then it’s likely that there is a piece of Malware on your device that interferes with your calls or even possibly records them.
- Ghost SMS messages – some Malware exists to spam SMS/MMS from infected devices. These could be just plain old spam, but they could also be dangerous links that infect other devices when clicked on. If your phone bill contains anything of the sort, then you have a problem.
- Data plan spike usage – much of the existing Malware requires a constant connection to the internet in order to send all data it records on your device. This outgoing traffic may not be recorded on your infected phone, but your company will definitely record it and charge you for the traffic. If you are suddenly asked to pay a much higher amount than usual, consider Malware as a possible reason.
- Poor overall performance – you know your own phone best. If you think it has been underperforming recently it’s likely that you caught the presence of a Malware stealing your system resources subconsciously.
Most Ad-creating Malware for Android function by displaying Ads on the internet browser you use. Most work as separate add-ons, but the most devious ones will attach to other applications and extension and make their identification very hard. The best way to get rid of any unwanted malware is to reset your browser to its default settings. You’ll find the instructions on how to perform the Android Malware removal in the guide found after the end of this article.
Tips on how to avoid getting infected with Android malware
There are two ways on how one can obtain android Apps:
- Through Google’s App store.
- Through downloading an .APK file from various locations.
Out of these two the App store is by far the safest option. Apps downloaded from the app store pass through rigorous inspections before they are made available for sale. If any problem should be discovered afterwards they are taken down immediately and the App store will notify you of the act so you can take appropriate action.
That said, please remember that no system is absolutely safe. A large number of positive reviews is not a good indication that an app is safe – especially if it is a brand new upload to the store. Whole companies exist to create (fake) positive Ads for Apps on the store. In addition to that, Google does not set limitations on the number of Ads an application is allowed to display – each developer decide for himself how obnoxious their product is going to be. The worst offenders simply try to make it as hard as possible for you to remove them (and they end up classified as malware – hence why there are so many search queries like “how to remove malware from android phone”). In most cases Ads created by Malware apps are limited to the internet browser and the app itself. Apps that operate outside of these limitations are very rare, but also extremely dangerous. Because they are a corner case scenario they will be handled in a future, separate article.
Installing Apps outside the App store leaves you more vulnerable to Android Malware
For various reasons App Developers will choose not to make their product available through the App store. This does not necessarily mean that such products are full with Malware – quite the opposite. Google takes a share of the profits from all Aps sold through the store (the biggest downside), but there are other downsides developers face such as approval time, time necessary to approve updates and more. Whatever the same may be sometimes the only way to obtain an App is to download it from a location that is not the Google App store. You need to recognize regular Apps from their malware brethren in order to be safe. Here is a list of tips for that:
- Look for permission list. Аn App that organizes your notes does NOT need permission to your contact list.
- Look for the memory and CPU usage – most Android Malware exists to collect personal data and will run a background service on your device. If your device is running slower than usual it is a reason to worry.
- Don’t download hacked software. Paid apps cost money for a reason – any modified (hacked) copy can easily have malware added to it
Android malware usually operates through Ads (as mentioned), but can sometimes employ alternative means. As an example a certain Malware operated through the Ad Network Air Push. Infected devices had pop-ups added to their Apps, which asked the user to pay money for program updates that should have been free otherwise.
- Remember, the Google App store uses the policy “Pay once, use forever”. App developers are allowed to develop additional Apps as a paid extension to current Apps, but no update should ever require any form of payment from you.
How to remove Malware from Android phone
This is a two-step process, which involves cleaning your internet browser(s) from any added code that may be creating the malware, as well as uninstalling any App that may be responsible. You’ll find the detailed instructions on how to do both in our guide below:
Android Malware Removal Guide
To begin with you will need to boot your device into Safe Mode. To do this, press and hold the power button on your device until the power options menu shows up.
After this, long-press the power button again until a box appears, asking whether you want to reboot into safe mode. Tap OK.
Whether you use the default “Internet” App for browsing or a different browser like Chrome you need to go to:
Locate the Browser/App in question and tap on it.
Now the method is effectively the same for users using both “Internet” and Chrome/Other Browsers, yet for more clarity we have provided instructions for both:
For “Internet” Browser Users:
Tap the Force Stop button.
Now tap the Clear Data and Clear Cache Buttons.
For Google Chrome Users:
Click on Force Stop.
Then click on Clear Data and Clear Cache.
Restart your Browser. It might be a good idea to Reboot your Android device, just in case. Also, try doing the following?
Instructions on how to remove suspicious Apps
Normally you remove Android apps from the Settings menu -> Apps -> (Select the suspicious app)
Naturally, “Flashlight” is not suspicious, merely an example to show you how the menu should look like.
In most cases you can click on the Uninstall button and be done with it. In rare occasions, however, the Malware may have managed to give itself administrator permissions and you’ll see that the Uninstall button is grayed out. In order to enable it you should leave the Apps folder and go to:
- Settings -> Security -> Device Administrators
In there you will see a list of apps that have admin status within your system. They’ll probably be listed under the Android DeviceManager. Remove the problematic App from this list. Now you should be able to remove it as normal.
If you are still seeing Ads in your browser, it is likely they are generated by the websites you visit and there is nothing you can do about it.
However, if you are seeing Adverts outside of your internet browser, then one of your installed Apps contains the problematic Adware. In this case you need to take a look at this guide.
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