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
First thing that must be done is to boot the device into Safe Mode – doing this will make it so that only essential processes would be active on the device and anything that may be related to the malware you are facing shouldn’t be allowed to run. Getting into Safe Mode is done differently on different phones. Still, on many phones it can be done in the following way:
Hold down the Power Button so that the shut down options appear on your screen.
When you see the different shut down options, press and hold the Power Button again and the Safe Mode/ Reboot to Safe Mode option should show up. Select it and then tap on Ok to confirm that you indeed want to enter Safe Mode.
Wait for the device to restart and if you see a small text that reads Safe Mode in any of the corners of your screen, this means that you’ve successfully entered that mode.
However, as we said, not all phones enter Safe Mode in the same way so you may have to look up How to Enter Safe Mode for your specific device. In most cases, it is easy to do it and should take you just a couple of minutes to figure it out. Once you have enabled Safe Mode on your device, continue with the next instructions.
Now, you must go to Settings > App Manager/Apps/Applications and find the list of all apps that are installed on the device (this list is usually labeled as All apps).
Once you get to the all apps list, sort the items shown there by date, from most recent to oldest. Now look at the apps near the top and try to figure out if any of them have been installed right before you started having problems with your smartphone. Also, if there’s an app in the list that you don’t remember downloading and installing on your own, this could be another red flag that this is the one you are looking for.
If you think that you’ve figured out which app may have brought malware into your system, tap on it and then select Uninstall to remove it from your phone.
If the uninstall button is grayed-out and you are prevented from uninstalling the app, do not worry and move to the next step. If you have been able to delete the app in question without problem, you can skip Step 3 and go directly to Step 4. Note that if you aren’t allowed to uninstall a given suspicious-looking app, this is a pretty good indication that this application could be related to the malware you are dealing with.
If you have not been able to delete the suspicious app in the previous step, return to Settings and type Admin in the search field at the top. From the results that show up, look for one labeled Device Admin Apps or something else along those lines and tap on it. In most cases, this option should be listed below Security and Privacy settings.
Now, look at the list of apps that have Admin privileges on your device. It is highly likely that you would find the suspicious app in that list. If it is there, revoke its Admin permissions and if asked whether you are sure you want to do this, select Yes regardless of what warning gets shown on your screen. After you are done here, return to Step 2 and try to uninstall the suspicious application again. After you do that, you can move onto Step 4.
The next thing you ought to do is clean your browser from any data related to the malware that has been bothering you lately. To do that, you must once again go to Settings > Apps Manager > All Apps and this time find the entry for your browser and select it (if you have several browsers, this step must be completed for all of them). Now, first tap on Force Stop, after that select Clear Data, and then Clear Cache.
The last step from this guide is to restart the device so that Safe Mode is no longer enabled and see how the phone behaves. In most cases, things should be back to normal because Android malware isn’t that difficult to eliminate if you know what you are doing. Still, if the problems seem to continue, you can always write us a comment under this post telling us about the issue and we will try to work with you towards solving it.