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How to remove a virus from your Android phone


Android smartphones are the most popular phones in the world. This fact alone makes Android phones more susceptible to viruses and other malware than iPhones, for example.

Don’t let this scare you. Generally speaking, smartphones are less likely to be targeted by malware than PCs. Moreover, all Android phones come with built-in security features, which makes them hard to hack in the first place. However, as we use smartphones more and more, that is slowly changing.

Luckily, you can remove a virus from your Android phone pretty easily with antivirus software, such as TotalAV. However, there are other ways to get rid of cyber threats, including uninstalling malicious apps or doing a factory reset.

In this article, I will show you how to check if your Android smartphone is infected with malware and teach you how to safely remove it.

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How to get rid of a virus from an Android phone

Removing viruses from your Android phone or tablet requires some patience, as there are quite a few steps to go through. These steps include a manual approach; however, there are a few automation tools that can help you ease the process. I will walk you through the process of removing malware from your phone below:

Step 1: Check for Android device and security updates

Outdated software is more susceptible to malware. One of the first things you should do is ensure that your phone is up-to-date. These updates often include hot fixes and security patches and protect against cyber threats. Here’s how you can update your phone:

  1. Go to your Android settings and search for Software update android-software-update
  2. If there are any new updates, make sure to install them by clicking Install now android-software-update-2

Step 2: Scan your Android device with antivirus software

Removing viruses manually can be difficult if you’re not tech-savvy. That’s why I recommend using an antivirus to make the job easier. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Download and install a reliable antivirus from the Google Play store. I recommend TotalAV, now 80% OFF totalav-download-and-create-account
  2. Create an account and choose a plan
  3. Perform a full scan of your phone totavlav-scan
  4. Follow the instructions on your antivirus app

There are certain types of malware that can slip through an antivirus scan. If you believe the virus has survived the scan, try to remove it from your phone manually.

Step 3: Remove untrusted apps

If you have recently spotted an app that you didn’t install, there’s a high chance that it might be malware. You'll need to clean your phone to ensure that no unfamiliar and potentially harmful apps remain. You can remove unrecognized apps by following these simple steps:

  1. Open your Android Settings and locate Apps
  2. Tap Apps and choose App management android-remove-apps
  3. Search for suspicious apps
  4. Select the app, tap Uninstall, and click OK android-app-uninstall

Step 4: Try a different network or connection method

Sometimes, you might experience symptoms that resemble malware-related activity if you’re connected to an untrusted or unsecure network, for instance, public Wi-Fi. Immediately disconnect and try a different network:

  1. Go to your Android settings
  2. Locate Network & Internet and choose Wi-Fi android-change-network
  3. Connect to a trusted and secure Wi-Fi android-change-network-2
  4. Alternatively, tap Mobile network and switch to mobile data

Step 5: Perform a security checkup on your Google account

There’s a strong chance that hackers used malware to hijack your Google account and further compromise your security. Here’s how you perform a security check on your Google account:

  1. Open a browser on your Android device
  2. Go to myaccount.google.com/security-checkup android-security-checkup
  3. Perform the recommended steps

Step 6: Change your Google account password

If you’ve noticed suspicious activity on your Google account, such as new logins or unauthorized charges, make sure to reset your password:

  1. Open your Android settings
  2. Go to Google and tap Manage your Google account android-change-google-password
  3. Select the Security section and locate Password android-change-google-password-2
  4. Confirm your current password and create a new password in the next window. Use a password generator to create a unique and strong password with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers

Step 7: Add two-factor authentication (2FA)

You can also increase your Android protection by using 2FA which makes it way more difficult for hackers to gain access to your Google account. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open your Android settings
  2. Go to Google and find Manage your Google account
  3. Click Security and locate 2-step verification
  4. Confirm your password and follow the steps in the next window

Extra step: Wipe your Android phone

If none of the above methods were able to remove the virus, you can wipe your Android by doing a factory reset. Here is a guide showing how to wipe your Android phone:

  1. Make a backup of your data onto a trusted computer. Don’t rely on Google’s backup features in case it’s also compromised. Plug your device into your computer using a USB cable. In the pop-up, select File transfer/Android Auto, and proceed with file transferring on your computer. The most important files to transfer would be photos and videos located in the DCIM folder, however, think about anything else you have on your phone that you would like to save. Android USB file transfer
  2. Reset your phone to factory settings. While these settings might be located in different places depending on your Android device, the most generic steps would be to go to the Settings app > System > Reset Options > Erase all data (factory reset). android factory reset

How to check my Android phone for viruses?

A reliable antivirus is one of the easiest ways to check if your Android smartphone has been infected with malware. Here’s how you can check whether your phone has a virus:

  1. Go to Google Play, find and install the TotalAV app
  2. Open TotalAV and tap the Security Scan button at the middle bottom of your screen
  3. TotalAV will scan your device and notify you if any viruses are detected

If you believe that your smartphone has been compromised but are unable to find the malware yourself, you can also perform a factory reset. Remember, a factory reset will delete nearly everything from your Android phone, so make sure to back up your photos and other important files before doing so.

Can phones get viruses?

Yes, phones can easily get viruses. For the past 10 years, the Android operating system (OS) has been dominating the global market and currently holds over 80% of the smartphone market share worldwide. Due to their popularity, Android phones are more susceptible to malware than iPhones, but both can get infected. Here are some of the most common ways by which malware and potentially unwanted apps can get into your phone.

Jailbreaking is an easy way to get infected with malware. Jailbreaking (iOS) or rooting (Android) your phone allows you to gain root access to its operating system. Users choose to root their phones for more customization, access to third-party apps, and the ability to remove bloatware. However, rooting inherently involves bypassing your phone’s security restrictions and can make it easier for malware to infect your phone.

The same applies to custom ROMs, which give users even more customization and control over their Android smartphones.

Another common way malware infects Android phones is through malicious apps. Malicious apps are usually installed through third-party websites, although there have been instances of malicious apps infiltrating Google Play, such as Anatsa banking trojan.

In addition, your phone may become infected with malware if you connect to an unknown or unsecured Wi-Fi, your Google or Apple account has been compromised, or you use outdated software.

How to know if your phone has a virus?

The quickest way to determine whether your Android phone has a virus is to run a full system scan with a reliable antivirus, like TotalAV. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices and can detect even the most advanced cyber threats.

In addition, you should closely monitor your device’s activity and look out for suspicious behavior such as:

1. Overheating or battery drain

Malware can use your phone’s computing power to run nefarious background tasks. A good example of this is cryptojacking, where malicious actors infect your device and use it to mine cryptocurrency. This can cause your phone to heat up out of nowhere and is a symptom you shouldn’t ignore.

android-battery-health

You can check the state of your battery life by navigating to Settings > Battery > Battery Health on iOS or the Settings app > Battery > Battery Usage on Android. Here, you will also find which apps use the most of your battery power.

If the battery-intensive apps are legitimate and you have installed them yourself, you should not worry. Yet, if you notice a suspicious app draining your battery, there’s a high chance that it’s malware.

2. Unexpected ads, redirects, or pop-ups

Intrusive ads are a result of adware, which is not strictly classified as malware, and instead rests under the name of Potentially Unwanted Application/Program (PUA/PUP). If sites or apps that are normally ad-free or ad-light suddenly become filled with ads, pop-ups, and redirects to sketchy sites, here are some possibilities:

  • The service has changed ownership or been compromised
  • Your network is injecting ads into insecure (HTTP) connections
  • Your phone has adware
Amazon Add on phone main screen

Although this particular symptom is somewhat rare on iOS, it used to be quite common on Android. Most of the time — especially when a trusted app is covered by an ad — the issue is caused by adware.

3. Unwanted, suspicious new apps

Finding apps you don’t remember installing is a huge red flag. But, before you start worrying about malware, make sure that you’re not signed into a shared iCloud or Google account. They can sync apps across devices, so it’s possible that someone you share an account with installed the app.

Recent downloads on Android

To check whether you're using Family Sharing on Android, go to Google Play > Account > Family > Settings > [your name] > Family Sharing.

If this isn’t the case, malware is a possible explanation for unwanted apps appearing on their own. To get rid of unwanted apps for good, install an antivirus and run a virus scan. I recommend using TotalAV as it has unmatched malware removal rates and great security features.

4. Unusually high data usage

If an app you hardly use eats up tons of data, or worse, you get a huge phone bill from data usage but can’t find the culprit — your device might have been infected with malware.

android-data-usage-1

You can check data usage in settings for both iOS and Android phones. Once you determine which app is consuming all your data, make sure to delete it and run a malware scan to ensure no trace of it is left.

Keep your Android device protected

Phone malware is just like your physical health: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Protecting yourself against malware is not too difficult for most people who aren’t high-value targets – all it takes is some planning and precaution:

  • Consider installing a strong antivirus, like TotalAV on your phone
  • Stay away from third-party apps
  • Don’t jailbreak or root your phone
  • Keep your phone updated; if you no longer receive timely software updates, purchase a new phone

Overall, practice basic cyber hygiene, stay vigilant, and exercise caution when browsing the web, installing apps, and opening messages/emails from unknown senders.

Video tutorial

Check out our step-by-step video tutorial and learn how to identify and remove malware from your Android smartphone.


More antivirus guides from Cybernews:


FAQ

Comments

wonderpush
prefix 1 year ago
Nice article! It is helpful because sometimes we get unnecessary notifications. It will be helpful for people who want to turn on or off the notification in their androids.
pishahangi
prefix 2 years ago
How do I get rid of fake virus warning on Android?
CyberNews Team
prefix 2 years ago
Hello!

First of all, try deleting all the suspicious applications on your phone - these might be responsible for the fake warnings. Also, install a reputable antivirus and do a full system scan.

If this doesn’t work, try rebooting your phone in safe mode or even performing a factory reset.
preeti
prefix 2 years ago
Great wordpress blog here.. It's hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! take care
Melissa
prefix 2 years ago
Me and my boyfriend were texting. And randomly a link was attached to one of the messages. It said. moware SOFTWARE - DIE
m.at
Stuart
prefix 2 years ago
I have an iPhone 6 Plus and have Norton 360 on my phone, but I sometimes get alerts to say my phone has viruses, but when I check nothing is there. Is it possible that there is viruses on my phone.
CyberNews Team
prefix 2 years ago
Hello! You should write to Norton support about this. The Norton app might be at fault, or you are simply getting pop-ups.
Haiku Willsten
prefix 3 years ago
Okay, what if these steps don’t work on an iPhone because your phone keeps turning off like it’s running out of charge but it’s not? Should I go to T-Mobile to get it fixed or should I just remove all the data on it (I can’t put the data into my pc cause of the iPhone turning off problem)
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
This sounds more like a hardware issue. You should take your iPhone to a certified repair shop.
Rick
prefix 3 years ago
I mistakenly clicked on a suspicious looking ad but closed the page before it could load ,can I get malware so quickly?
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Simply opening a malicious website won’t likely infect your device. More often, you’d have to download or install something which would run the malicious scripts.
Though, it’s not uncommon that such websites might still leave you malicious cookies to show you adware. To avoid such situations, have a quick antivirus scan.
martin
prefix 3 years ago
just got my new phone, and have a couple of concerns. is free virus protection for android phone enough? i am talking about built it cache and virus removal. i am absolutely ok with buying avast or kaspersky if needed, however, if the company offers an antivirus by default it must be reliable as well?
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Modern Android OS is quite secure on its own, but it doesn’t include antivirus. So, you’ll have to look for a third-party provider.
pixie
prefix 3 years ago
Cybernews or any other who can help me, I was reading online on wattpad and my browser just sent me this message “warning virus detected android infected tap to remove it’ What should I do? If I click it will I ruin my tablet? I’ve simply never faced such a situation before.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
When browsing sketchy websites, you can occasionally encounter webpages that display fake alerts about malware infecting your device.
They don’t really mean anything and are just quick tricks to get you to click on them.
tray
prefix 3 years ago
can an iphone get a virus from safari? i was browsing random websites and accidentally pressed popup ad. i got redirected to a website with tons of ads and my phone just turned off. now, i’m afraid that viruses will delete all my photos and docs 🙁
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
It’s improbable that something that you click once in safari will delete your entire cloud storage. Use caution when browsing, and install some web filters to avoid such websites in the future.
kiwipluto
prefix 3 years ago
Whats is the best virus cleaner for android phones? Is it worth paying for avast or similar to it? I saw and tried a couple of free cleaners on the Play Store like CC cleaner, Safe Security, etc. However, CC Cleaner after downloading it, made random ads appearing on my home screen. I think it’s no good for an antivirus to do that.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Your phone usually has access to the same services that you’re using on your other devices. So, it does make sense to add an additional security layer to protect your most important data.
kay
prefix 3 years ago
i’ve installed a free app for editing photos, and it started acting in a weird way – the battery is dying every 3 hours, it became very slow, and some of the other apps stop working randomly. i think my iphone has a virus. am i right?
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
It may be either that or your phone might also be getting old. Don’t mistake every malfunction as a virus.
Romanticon37
prefix 3 years ago
Do you know if there’s a reliable way to do a phone virus scan online? I don’t feel safe downloading more software and risk getting infected just to see if my phone is not already infected. If it’s not possbile then I might just go with a factory reset because the phone is barely usable anyway.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Online virus scan could only be done if you uploaded a suspicious file to be scanned in someone’s servers. However, there’s no option to scan your whole storage without downloading some antivirus tool.
Franz
prefix 3 years ago
Is it possible that a virus is draining my phone battery? I got the phone like six months ago and it doesn’t last as long as it used to. I don’t think it should be like this. What’s foolproof way of checking for it and getting rid of it?
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Hi, Franz. A virus could be draining your phone battery. Still, it could also be a maximum brightness setting that you left in your display options. The best way to verify would be to go into the battery tab, and you should get a pretty detailed graph of which sources consume the most of your power. If you notice some unknown apps that drain a lot of power, you may have accidentally installed malware.
Summer J.
prefix 3 years ago
I switched from Iphones back to Android phones. Tim is charging too much and not giving enough new features. Security though – now that may be an issue. Haven’t been really up to date on what are the latest threats for Android. Do I need a virus protector for my android phone? And would a free app be enough? Might be good enough if it has a trustworthy reputation.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Android has come a long way from the early days, this applies to security, as well. If you’re using the latest version that your phone supports, you should be in the clear. However, if you want an extra bit of protection, you can always install an antivirus app. It should block most known malicious websites, so you won’t easily download malware.
MintCheese19
prefix 3 years ago
So last weekend I kind of went into a big old conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Not because I believe that stuff, only for entertainment value. So I went to some weird places on the internet. Some seemed unsecure. Now I noticed that my phone isn’t running as well as it did before, even though I restart it and clear cache with cookies. Now I fear the worst. Does anyone know how to get the fbi virus off my phone?
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
If you’re worried that your phone might be infected, you should perform a hard reset on your device. For future reference, try to abstain from going to sketchy websites and avoid clicking unknown links.
Bromonour
prefix 3 years ago
Blasted Covid! My mom got scammed! She lives far away and I can’t go over to see what’s wrong with her phone. I do have my suspicions though. In any case do you have an article about how to remove phishing virus from android phone? Something easy to understand for someone who isn’t very tech savvy. Might have to factory reset the thing if we can’t find a solution.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
You must be confusing something because phishing is a method to lure the target. Usually via legitimately looking websites and emails. While a virus a malicious program. Regardless, if you’re worried about the infected phone, this guide should be a helpful source of information.
Shayne Morrison
prefix 3 years ago
Can you please tell me how to check for virus on samsung phone? Lately it’s been performing very poorly, lagging all the time and the battery gets drained faster than usual. I don’t know what to do anymore, it’s getting really frustrating and it’s barely been a year with this phone, really not in the mood to change it again.
CyberNews Team
prefix 3 years ago
Hello, Shayne. The thing is, a virus is just one of the potential reasons why your phone might be lagging. You might be running at maximum storage capacity, keeping a lot of services turned on. Many genuine programs can be clogging up your device, which means that few resources remain to allocate for tasks, which means you’re getting a poor phone experience.
You could try backing up your most essential data and performing a system reset. Afterward, check if the problems persist. If you’re experiencing problems a year into your purchase, this also could be a fault of a defective unit.
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