malware android

Signs of Android Malware Infection: Tips for Removal and Prevention

Last updated on May 2, 2021

For most of us, smartphones are an indispensable part of ourselves used for storing our personal information, from photos to credit card details. Some people even use it to save their passwords and personal notes.

Sorry to tell you, it’s relatively easy for mobile phones to get hacked. In fact, over the past two years, Kaspersky mobile products and technologies detected a definite spike in mobile malware, growing from 40,386 in 2018 to 67,500 the following year.

If you know how mobile malware hacking happens, it’s easy to prevent it. How to deal with it is another issue. But that’s relatively simple too.

How Do Mobile Phones Get Malware

Once you know how hackers steal access, you’ll know how to secure your device.

The most common situations are the following:

  1. Someone sneaks your phone and installs spy apps (most commonly, SpyPhone, SpyZ, or SpyEra). These apps record your phone calls, text messages, social media posts, your whereabouts and your emails.
  2. You use an unprotected WiFi network in a public place, like a café or airport. These free WiFi “hot spots” share your private transactions with everyone around you.
  3. When charging your phone via an unknown USB. Think of an airport or the Greyhound terminal. Although different smartphones leak varying amounts of information, all divulge your device name and type, your phone serial number, its manufacturer, operating and file system information and electronic chip ID. That’s enough for hackers to track your booty.
  4. SMS phishing (or smishing), when hackers lure you with phony text messages containing links to legitimate looking, but fraudulent, sites.

How to Prevent Malware Infection on Android Devices

According to watchdog Witch?, more than a billion Androids risk being hacked because they are no longer protected by security updates. Make sure that mobile is not yours.

Use only the official Google Play Store for apps, check reviews of apps before installing and make sure chosen apps carry the green badge (Google Play Protect) under the progress bar. (You can also check the status of apps in the Google Play Store via Menu – My apps and games).

Most important, always update your apps and Android mobile to its latest version. Avoid rooting your device, where you bypass your inbuilt mobile protections. Secure your device with your biometrics and/ or customized PIN numbers. Practice safe browsing skills.

How to Check for Malware on Your Android

  1. Your phone has apps you never downloaded.
  2. Apps take longer to load. Most likely malware’s obstructing them.
  3. Your phone is too slow. Spyware’s sneaking data from your phone, choking its performance.
  4. The battery drains faster than expected. An invisible spyware app sucks your phone’s energy.
  5. You’re getting loads of pop-up ads.
  6. Phone companies send you higher phone bills; hackers “borrow” your phone for their own calls.

Other warning signs include unknown phone numbers that appear in recent calls, strange text messages, unexplained data usage and a phone that’s warm even when you’re not using it.

The Easiest Way to Get Rid of Malware on Android

If you think you have malware on your phone, it’s important to stop the malware from doing further damage.

  1. Scroll through your app list (Settings – Applications).  Check for applications you don’t remember installing. Some could have been installed by your phone manufacturer and/or service providers, in which case run a Google search on whether they’re legit.  Uninstall anything else.
  2. Go to the Downloads folder, usually located in File Manager, and check for auto downloads that may have slipped into your device from visited websites. Anything unfamiliar, uninstall.
  3. Download a defense application, like MalwareBytes or Norton, and have it crawl your device to grab infections. Delete suspicious applications, before restarting your device to test it. Note: These Anti-Malware applications may sometimes give you false positives, so run your own tests by uninstalling and checking apps, as you run the anti-malware in the background.
  4. Check the administrative rights on the applications (Settings – Advanced Options). Some applications are locked by administrator rights, which stops you from uninstalling those apps. Delete suspicious permissions.

Still unable to get rid of malware?

  1. Boot your Android into “Safe” mode. (Restart – hardpress on Power Off).
  2. Remove third-party applications.
  3. When you return to Normal mode, test your device to see if it works as it should.

The last resource

Here’s what to do when at wit’s end:

Factory reset your phone completely. This will wipe all the information that’s inside your device – which brings me to a side note: make sure you regularly backup your data, so you’ve got clean backup information if you need to take this nuclear step.

Once your phone’s recharged, change all account passwords on your mobile.

Mobile Malware FAQ

Through instances that include someone sneaking your phone and installing spy apps; using public wifi; when charging your phone on an unknown port and SMS phishing.
Your phone is slow, has apps you never downloaded and that take longer to load. The battery drains faster than expected. You’re getting loads of pop-up ads - and higher phone bills.
Either through the apps list, removing and cancelling administrative rights of suspicious applications. Or through booting into Safe mode and removing suspicious applications from there. If all else fails, nuclear reboot your device.

Conclusion

Hackers can hack your smartphones any day. Common ways are through phishing, public unsecured wi-fi, stealing your phone and flooding it with spyware. If they succeed is really up to you. Know their tricks and you can stall them. At worst, you can undo their damage.

Smartphones are smart, but most hackers are smarter.  Although your phone’s a life-saver, if it gets in the wrong hands, it could be deadly.