• You can clean your Android phone from viruses and malware by removing malware in safe mode, clearing cache or doing a factory reset.
  • Although no real computer virus can infect your Android phone, there are plenty of other malware.
  • Signs of malware include pop-up ads, unexplained apps, frequent crashes, and reduced battery life.

Just because your phone isn’t running a full desktop operating system doesn’t mean it can’t be infected with debilitating malware. In fact, your Android phone is vulnerable to several types of malware, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the warning signs and know what to do to remove malware from your phone. Here are the most common signs of infection and what to do about them.

Signs your Android device has a virus

First, the good news: There are currently no Android viruses, and it’s unlikely that your phone will be infected with a real computer virus anytime soon. But a virus is a very specific form of malware, and there are other types of malware your phone can get infected with, including adware, ransomware, scareware, spyware, and Trojans.

Nevertheless, most people still refer to malware as viruses. With that in mind, beware of these signs that your Android device contains some kind of malware.

Your contacts receive spam from your accounts

If friends, family members and colleagues are reporting that they are receiving spam, there are several possibilities, most of them not good news. Your phone may contain malware that has hijacked your email accounts, for example, or your email account itself may be hacked. Either way, if multiple people tell you that something unusual is going on with your email, assume you have malware.

You see a lot of pop-up ads

An adware is, as the name suggests, a kind of malware designed to display lots of advertisements. Most adware is not subtle and you may notice a dramatic increase in pop-ups (usually when running Chrome) after being infected. Worse still, some adware is also malware: the messages you see warning you that you’re infected with malware or that your phone isn’t working properly, and offer to fix it for a fee.

You notice unknown apps on your phone

Even if you have a lot of apps on your phones, you probably know most of the ones you see on your home screen. If you see new app icons that you don’t recognize, it could mean that malware has installed apps without your permission.

The battery drains much faster than usual

Malware can drain your battery quickly for a number of reasons including the fact that it can perform a lot of online activities and is poorly designed with no regard for conserving your phone’s battery or CPU . Therefore, a similar sign of malware is if your phone tends to heat up even when you’re not performing CPU-intensive tasks.

You find out that your phone is suddenly using a lot more data

Likewise, malware can cause your phone to upload and download a lot of data in the background, which can lead to an unexpected increase in your data usage. Keep an eye on your data usage and, if your cellular plan doesn’t offer unlimited data, watch out for data limit notifications or overage charges.

Apps crash a lot

Most common apps probably don’t crash very often, so if you start seeing notifications that apps crash frequently, suspect malware. As stated earlier, a lot of malware is poorly designed and buggy, often suffering from incompatibilities with other common apps and Android itself. The bottom line: Malware is likely to crash a lot more than the legitimate apps you’re used to.

How to remove a virus from an Android device

If your phone is showing some of the symptoms of malware and you think it might be infected, there are a few steps you can take to clean your phone and get rid of malware.

Clear your cache

Since malware often attacks your web browser, the first thing you should do is clear your web browser cache. This can eliminate malware residing in the phone memory. The specific steps may vary slightly depending on the phone model you have, but you should be able to find your cache settings by following these steps:

1. Start the Settings application.

2. Faucet apps.

3. Go to the applications list (you may need to press See all apps) and touch Chromium (or whatever browser you use).

4. Faucet Storage and caching.

5. Faucet Empty the cache.

6. Faucet Manage spacethen Erase all data.

Clear Chrome Cache on Android.

Clear Chrome cache and storage as the first step to eliminate malware.

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Delete unknown apps in safe mode

Malware may have installed malicious software on your phone and it may not be possible to remove these apps in the usual way. Instead, you can restart your phone in safe mode, which starts the phone with minimal apps and services so you can remove apps before malware has a chance to start.

The method to start safe mode may vary depending on your phone model, so you may need to search online for the exact procedure for your phone. But it should work for many models: from the lock screen, press and hold Power until the shutdown screen appears. Tap and hold Switch off button. After a while, you should see the option to restart the phone in safe mode. Select it.

Restart Android in safe mode.

Restart your phone in safe mode then remove all suspicious apps.

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When the phone restarts in safe mode, third-party apps (including most malware) are disabled. Find potentially unwanted applications and remove them.

Activate Google Play Protect

Play Protect is Google’s free anti-malware app that checks your phone for malware and behaviors similar to your third-party apps. If you are not already using Google Play Protect, you must immediately activate it from the Google Play store.

Google Play Protect for Android.

Google Play Protect regularly scans your phone and protects it from malware.

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Install anti-malware software

In general, installing third-party anti-malware software on your Android phone can be considered overkill. For most people, the risk of infection is relatively low, so paying for anti-malware software might not be a good investment. But if you are already infected or have been infected in the past, additional protection may be warranted. Some great options include Bitdefender Total Security and Norton Antivirus Plus.

Reset your phone to factory settings

If all else fails, a surefire way to remove malware from your phone is to factory reset it. This removes all apps, data, and settings from the phone, so use this option with caution. Start the Settings app and choose Reset options (you may need to navigate to System first, depending on your phone), then choose Erase all data (factory reset).

Reset an Android phone.

Factory resetting your phone is a “nuclear option” that will eliminate most malware.

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After the reset, you can reinstall your apps and data from a recent backup, but if the malware was already in the backup, you’ll just re-infect your phone again. If so, you will need to reset the phone a second time and then manually reinstall your favorite apps, without using the backup.