How to Remove an Android virus
If your Android device is playing up, there is a possibility it could have a virus. This guide will show you how to remove a virus from Android and how to avoid Android malware in the first place.
Although rare, android viruses exists and the best way to avoid an Android virus is to keep to the secured confines of the Google Play Store. Should your device get lumbered with some malware, we will explain how to put it into Safe mode, if necessary remove the malicious app’s administrator status and then uninstall the app. If this fails a factory reset should remove the bug once and for all, though you would understandably prefer not to have to do so.
Before anything else, let’s all assume your Android phone or tablet doesn’t have a virus (Use AVG Virus Scanner to confirm you have a virus). But if you’re convinced that malware is at large, then you have read the right article. Here are the instructions to remove viruses from your device.
Where Do Android Viruses Come From?
The number-one way an Android virus finds its way on to your phone or tablet is on the back of an app. This is true of all the biggest Android viruses to hit the headlines over recent years: Gunpoder, Ghost Trojan, Googlian and Godless all came to be in this manner, while Mazar sneaks in via a text message asking you to download the Tor browser (guess what: you’re not downloading the Tor browser).
Recently, Checkpoint has notified Android users to the FalseGuide botnet malware, which gets on to user devices through dodgy walkthrough apps for Pokémon Go and FIFA found in Google Play, then turns them into silent botnets used for adware.
These apps get around Google’s defenses due to the non-malicious nature of their first component, says Checkpoint, but users should watch out by their request for device admin permission, which should not be given to any app. This prevents the app being deleted from your Android.
Android viruses have agendas such as running malicious processes on your device, some stealing your personal information and others downloading additional software, which may not always be malicious itself. Whatever it is, you don’t want them there.
How to Avoid Android Viruses
- Don’t install apps from outside Google Play unless you know what you’re doing: This purpose should be disabled by default, but to check you can open your phone or tablet’s Settings menu, go to Security, then ensure the Unknown Sources option is disabled
- Avoid cloned apps: you are most likely safe downloading apps from Google Play, but malicious code has been found within apps there. Avoid downloading what appear to be cloned apps from unknown developers.
- Check app permissions: Always check an app’s required permissions before installing it. Never allow an app device admin permission, which prevents it from being deleted. You can also check reviews online and browse the developer’s website to see whether it’s a genuine operation or not.
- Keep Android up to date: The latest version of the Android operating system won’t really be available for your phone or tablet, but you should check that it is as up to date as it can be. Consider a brand that is known for its timely operating system updates the next time you upgrade.
- Install an antivirus app: You don’t need to install antivirus on Android, but it gives you security if you’re concerned about viruses plus other app benefits. Be warned though that Android antivirus is known to occasionally report false-positives, but you’ll know if an app is legit or not. We’ve rounded up some mobile security software in this separate article. (Another option: Download Android Mobile Security)
How to Remove a Virus From Android
1. Put your device into Safe mode. This avoids any third-party apps running, including any malware.
- On many devices you can press the power button to access the power off options, then press and hold Power off to bring up an option to restart in Safe mode.
- If this doesn’t work for your device then you should Google ‘How to put [your model name] into Safe mode’ and follow the instructions.
- When in Safe mode you’ll see ‘Safe mode’ at the bottom left of the screen.
2. Open your Settings menu and choose Apps, then make sure you’re viewing the Downloaded tab.
- Chances are you will know when your device first malfunctioned, and you can usually line that up with a new app you might have downloaded.
- If you’re not sure of the app that has infected your Android device, go through the list and look for anything dodgy-looking or that you know you haven’t installed.
3. Tap on the malicious app to open the App info page, then click Uninstall.
- In most cases, this is all you need to do to remove the virus, but occasionally you might find the Uninstall button is greyed out.
- This is because the virus has given itself Device administrator status. Exit the Apps menu and tap on Settings, Security, Device Administrators. Here you’ll find a list of any apps on your phone or tablet with administrator status.
4. Simply untick the box for the app you want to remove, then tap Deactivate on the next screen.
- You should now be able to return to the apps menu and remove that app.
5. With the virus now off your Android device, all you need to is reboot the device to take it out of Safe mode.
- Now that it’s working correctly it’s a good time to back up whatever important data you have stored on the device, and install an Android antivirus app to protect you from any future viruses in the future.
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