How to Diagnose and Remove Malware from Android Phone

How to Diagnose and Remove Malware from Android Phone

 Tech Castle    -     April 25, 2019

Is your Android phone running slower? Do your batteries drain faster than usual? If these apply to you, your phone may have an Android malware.

In 2018, about 116.5 million malware attacks occurred on mobile devices. This is almost double the 66.4 million malware attacks from 2017. From these numbers alone, we see how security threats on smartphones are progressing.

Read on for our guide on how you can remove malware from Android phones. Below, we included the process of diagnosing the problem.


1. What Malware Does

Before you figure out how to get rid of malware on Android phones, you need to know why you should get rid of it. In the traditional sense, the goal of malware is to generate revenue. Now, malware writers are using more sophisticated techniques to deceive users.

It steals information you use or put in your device. This can be your personal information, contact list or e-mail information, and location. It can also get your passwords for different apps and sites.

They send the information to third parties. Another possibility is they send your personal info to attackers. They can also do this with recorded phone conversations.

It is possible that hackers lock up your device or encrypt your data. They’ll contact you and offer to give you back access to your files. In return, they will demand a ransom payment from you.

Malware can steal cryptocurrency by switching up your SMS rates to premium rates. They can also make you subscribe to premium services without your knowledge. Malware may take control over an infected phone or download more malware into your phone.

Other sly things malware does is they install ‘icon ads’ on your start screen. When you touch the icon, a search engine or web service may launch instead. This is one reason why random pop-ups appear on your phone.

In 2016, the malware Hummingbad accounted for more than 72% of all mobile infections. It downloaded as many malicious apps as possible on infected phones. The trigger was when users closed the fake ads that the malware shows them.

2. Know If Android Malware Is Present

One of the common symptoms of malicious apps is slow performance, as we stated in our introduction. Malware operates in the background without your knowledge, slowing down your phone. Yet, you need to be careful when you assume this.

There are two instances that cause slow phone performance. The first one is having malware on your Android phone. The second one is having too many apps open at once or having an old phone.

If your phone isn’t slowing down, it may be speeding up on draining power. This is another sign that malware got to your Android and is running in the background. Malware can work in the background even when your screen is off.

Again, be careful when you assume this. One other explanation for quicker battery drain is overworking your phone by having many apps run in the background. Or, your battery could be old and may need replacement.

Seeing strange pop-ups lately? They may pop up even when you are using an app that shouldn’t have pop-ups. It’s another reason to look for malware.

Another indicator of malware infection includes increased data usage. If you use your phone for online transactions, there may be unknown charges for services you didn’t get. If you noticed that it’s getting higher despite doing usual activities, you may need to check for malware.

If you notice these changes in your mobile phone, start checking for malware.

How to Check for Malware

How common is malware? To put it into perspective, around 560,000 users who downloaded apps in the Play Store got malware.

The apps that contained malware seemed like harmless simulation games. Victims couldn’t find the icon after that but the app tries to update through unknown sources.

It’s smart to have a validated antivirus app on your phone. It’s wise to run an antivirus scan on your phone often. After every app download and installation, always check for malware.

When you choose a cybersecurity app, make sure it does complete scans and doesn’t miss weaknesses. An antivirus that doesn’t scan everything will mislead you into a false sense of security. If you’re on a budget, there are many free and paid software choices in the market.

3. How to Remove Malware from Android Devices

If you think your mobile device got infected with malware, you need to remove it. Over everything, you should stop the malware from causing further damage. By chance, eliminating malware is easier than getting rid of computer viruses.

Before you proceed, it’s important that you find out which apps are causing harm to your phone. Look back to which apps you downloaded before the symptoms started. It’s very likely that they are the causes.

Follow the steps listed below to remove malware.

Shut down and Restart in Safe Mode

Turn off your phone and restart it in Safe Mode. Most Android phones can restart in Safe Mode. You’ll know you restarted the device in this mode when you see Safe Mode displayed at the corner of your screen.

Depending on the model of your phone, there are different ways to do this. One way is to hold down the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons on your device. Hold them down while your phone is turning on.

Some Android models will allow you to choose to restart in Safe Mode when you turn it off. Before the device turns off, it will ask if you want to boot into Safe Mode. All you need to do is to allow it and confirm.

Shutting down your mobile phone will allow you some time to think back to the apps you downloaded in the past. It will also let you do some research without further harming your Android and/or infecting other apps. In the meantime, you’ll have to use a computer or a different device to look up the malware that matches the symptoms.

Uninstall Any Suspicious Apps

Safe Mode will limit any further damage harmful apps do to your phone. Go to the App Manager under Settings and look for the suspicious app. Uninstall it and any other that has malware.

To do this, go to App Info and press Force Stop. Tap on Clear cache and then to Clear data. Last, tap on the Uninstall button.

Some known malicious apps are Browser update 1.0, Flash Player, and System Update. Other known harmful apps include Porn-player, Porn Droid, and BaDoink. The names will often be different but they are malware all the same.

There are non-malicious apps that display unwanted ads like GO Weather Forecast & Widgets. There is also the possibility that other apps got infected by your malware as well. If the symptoms show after you delete malware, you have to uninstall other infected apps.

In case you cannot uninstall the app, a Disable button will be the only option. This will not be enough to stop the malware. Clever malware will give itself special protection by visiting your administrator settings.

To get rid of these apps, go to Settings > Security. Look for a section titled Phone (or Device) Administrators. Next, enable the ability to remove Android malware and proceed with the uninstallation.

Download Android Security Apps

The next step is to restart your phone to complete the Android malware removal process. To further avoid malware, you need to put up some security against it. Look for a reliable antivirus app in the Google Play Store.

Be cautious with free antivirus trials for not all antivirus software are as they seem. They could also be malware in disguise. This is one reason why it’s better to get paid antivirus services instead.

Reliable and popular antimalware software include MalwareBytes and Avast Security. The Google Play Store also has 360 Security and AVG Antivirus. There are many more choices but always make sure to do some research on the software first.

Take Further Caution

An optional step is to remove Chrome notifications. Some cybercriminals use push notifications to send unwanted ads. In Chrome, go to the Settings menu > Site Settings > Notifications. Find malicious sites and tap Clean & Reset.

When you download apps next time, read their reviews. Reviewers will write down strange experiences and concerns with the apps they downloaded. Use that information to check how secure the app is.

If you get your apps from third-party marketplaces, stop. This is where hackers plant malware in the apps. Refer to the Google Play Store since it has features like Play Protect.

You can also get a cache cleaner like CCleaner. It analyses junk files in your History, Cache, and some apps with cached content. This app will remove junk files from your Android device.

Can’t seem to get rid of the malware? Your router might be the infected one. If you suspect that it’s infected, reset your router to the factory settings.

When you reset your router, the usernames and passwords for the following change: Wi-Fi, router, and ISP. Any firewall settings you made will also change. Port-forwards you set up and other configuration changes will need reconfiguring.

4. Tips to Protect Your Mobile Phone from Malware

When your screen cracks, you get a screen replacement. When your phone gets infected by malicious apps, you remove them. It’s important to take care of your phone’s inner workings as you would take care of its exterior.

Allow us to give you some more tips on how you can prevent malware from accessing your phone. You can do this before any malware reaches your phone or after you clean your mobile of malware. Keep all your software and operating systems updated with the latest versions.

Invest in a security suite or paid antivirus protection. You can still rely on free antimalware and antivirus software. Still, paid premium services offer more protection.

Always be careful with what you download, press, and/or install. If you see suspicious links in emails and text messages, don’t click.

Create complicated and strong passwords. If you don’t have the time to remember them, get a dependable password manager. Password managers also manage sensitive information and store them in encrypted online vaults.

When you install apps, make sure they come from trusted sources. Before you download, read the fine print. Looking over the permissions will help you understand how much access they get.

Do you often connect with public Wi-Fi connections? Those Wi-Fi connections may not have security. Better to never use them and get a data plan instead.

Did you notice how ads on some sites pin down your location? This means your IP address and online actions are visible. Use a VPN to mask your actions and location.

Imagine the banking and social media apps you used while connected to a public connection. Always use a VPN when you connect to public Wi-Fi. A VPN will give you anonymity and online privacy by creating a private network.

Ensure the Security of Your Mobile Phone

Don’t wait for your device to get infected. Malware can infect your Android phone at any time. To combat this, get antivirus software for your mobile with real-time protection.

That’s our guide on how you can remove malware from Android phones. This diagnosis and process should work with all Android phones. We hope this guide helps and educates well.

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We have a range of tech gear under brands like Mac, HP, Lenovo, and Dell. If you don’t know the problem, you can get your phone or tablet checked for free. Contact us now for details or drop by our Kentucky location.