Jun 1st, 2020

When it comes to upholding phone security and privacy, Android smartphones don’t particularly have the best track record. 

With tech giant Google collecting a monumental amount of information on users, to Android OS providing cybercriminals with the perfect platform to launch sophisticated cyber attacks through- it is only understandable that hackers exploit the security loopholes within Android to propagate malware and viruses through thousands, if not millions of smartphones. 

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, these malicious malware and virus attacks on smartphones are only going to get more dangerous- which is why users must equip themselves with the ability to remove viruses and malware from their Android phones. As a general rule of thumb, if you see that your phone is behaving suspiciously, chances are it might be infected with malware or a virus. 

Unfortunately, however, a significant portion of Android phone-owners tend to forego the severity of the threat posed by malware and virus, which leaves them unprepared to deal with the very likely possibility of a malware attack, which causes their phone’s browser to be redirected to malicious websites, along with them being bombarded with unwanted advertisements. 

One such example is of Android users who are becoming a victim of WolfRAT Malware. WolfRAT is the latest version of the malware package that works by infecting potential victims by an infection chain method. It lures the gullible users by fake updates while abusing app services like Google Play and Flash. 

To aid our readers, we’ve compiled an article that dives deep into the steps that users can take to eradicate malware and viruses from their Android smartphones. Before we can carry on detailing those steps, however, we’d like to clear the doubt once and for all by answering the age-old question of whether or not Android phones are susceptible to malware attacks.

Can Android Smartphones Get Infected With Malware? 

If you’ve been acquainted with developments in the cybersecurity sphere in the slightest, chances are you’ve heard about the havoc wreaked by malware – which is further made evident by the fact that, in 2019, a staggering 53% organizations were at the receiving end of a ransomware attack that resulted to a partial disruption of business operations. 

Quite similarly to how malware topples down businesses, by destroying laptops and computers, Android-based malware targets smartphones and is typically formulated by cybercriminals with the intent to steal confidential user information. Furthermore, Android applications that focus on providing users with a “personalized” experience are highly susceptible to be compromised, along with gaming and entertainment apps. 

Although a vast majority of Android-centric malware primarily focuses on stealing user data, such as financial credentials, contacts list amongst other personal details, some types of malicious apps focus on bombarding Android phones with unwanted advertisements. 

Moreover, further adding to the danger posed by viruses and malware to Android, these malicious applications are often available on the Google Play Store, poorly disguised as legitimate applications. Bearing witness to the rather wide security gaps present within Android, a fake camera malicious app managed to slip through the cracks and managed to secure 100,000 downloads before being taken down by Google. 

When it comes to malware being transferred to Android phones, perhaps the most common way through which it is propagated is through malicious applications. Along with managing to disguise themselves as legitimate applications making their way onto the Google Play Store, they are also advertised as legitimate APK files and are downloaded through unofficial application stores. 

In the highly likely instance that an Android phone is infected with malware, through the download of a malicious app, one of the most significant tell-tale signs that users need to look out for include the following: 

  • Overall poor device performance
  • Applications unexpectedly crashing
  • Poor battery optimization
  • Browser keeps getting redirected to suspicious-looking websites
  • Unexplained data usage

Although these symptoms point towards an Android malware infection, they could also be pointing towards a device that is overloaded with junk. Either way, it is quite significant that users know about some of the most common actions that malicious applications intend to execute on Android phones so that they can stay on top of things. These actions typically include the collection of personal information, with an emphasis on stealing banking and financial credentials. 

Additionally, malicious applications may also record phone conversations and overriding other apps, such as the lock screen, to display unwarranted advertisements. Furthermore, malicious apps targeting Android phones may also subscribe to unnecessary services, altering the configuration of your web browser without your permission. 

How to remove viruses & malware from Android Smartphones?

To regain control of your Android smartphone, you’ll have to follow the steps mentioned below to remove any malware or virus that might be interfering with your phone’s functionality. 

Step #1 – Turn Your Phone Off Before You’re Sure of What You’re Dealing With

As a general rule of thumb, whenever you’re looking to devise a long-lasting solution to any problem, we’d suggest that you steer clear of making any abrupt decisions. Similarly, once you suspect that your Android phone has been infected with malware or a virus, the best route to take is to hold the power button down and shut the phone completely off

Not only does shutting your phone off prevent the situation from escalating further, but it also circumvents the cybercriminals’ efforts from further spreading the malware or virus. Additionally, turning your phone off also provides users with the much-needed time for research, which helps narrow down the issue and brings forth the root cause of the problem. 

Step #2 – Operate in Safe/ Emergency Mode While Working

Once you’ve discovered the malicious app wreaking havoc on your Android phone, you’ll need to power your phone back on and switch over to the safe mode, also known as the emergency mode. By switching over to the safe mode, you can limit the amount of damage that the infected app can cause. 

To activate your Android phone’s safe mode, you’ll need to hold down the power button for a while, after which you’ll need to tap on the ‘Power off’ option until it brings forth the ‘Reboot to safe mode’ option. After selecting this option, you’ll need to wait for a couple of seconds for your phone to reboot before proceeding with the next step. 

If you discover that your Android phone doesn’t have the safe mode, you might want to consider switching to the airplane mode instead- which can be activated through the notification panel. 

Step #3 – Locate the Malicious App

After you’ve enabled the safe mode on your Android phone, you’ll need to visit the ‘Settings’ tab and locate the problematic application you’ve identified as the primary source of your Android’s malware or virus infection. 

Once you’ve reached the ‘Settings’ tab, you’ll want to scroll down to the ‘Apps’ section. Once there, you’ll see a list of all your current applications (if you don’t, then you might want to visit the ‘Application Manager’), where you need to scroll until you find the malicious app. 

Also, be extremely careful when reading app reviews. In recent years, scammers have found many ways to publish fake reviews of their applications in Google. Though Google has gotten better at detecting these, honest Google reviews are still hard to spot. Take some time to read through the Google Play store and, if something feels off, don’t download the app.

Step #4 – Delete the Malicious Application

After you have located the infected app(s), you’ll need to select the app, which brings up three options – Uninstall, Force Stop, and Force Close. Select the ‘Uninstall’ option, and the infected application will be deleted from your Android phone, which will effectively eliminate any malware or virus stored on your Android smartphone. 

Furthermore, we’d suggest that you have a good look at the list of installed applications, and uninstall any suspicious-looking downloads and apps. In some Android phones, you might see the ‘Disable’ option instead of ‘Uninstall.’ 

Step #5- Download Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software

Once you’ve taken the steps mentioned above, you must take the necessary steps to ensure that this incident doesn’t happen again. As we’ve stated above, an Android smartphone is susceptible to an arsenal of threats, so users must download security applications. 

After you’ve manually detected and deleted a malicious application, you can download antivirus for Android (eg, Norton), anti-malware software (eg, Malware Bytes), and encrypted VPN apps that don’t log your user data (eg, NordVPN). These services will do the detection job for you, and offer a security front to battle the threat posed by malware and virus attacks. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, by the end of the article, our readers have gained an acute understanding of some of the most common steps that they can take to eradicate malware and viruses from their Android phones. With that being said, however, as the age-old saying goes, prevention is far better than cure- which is why downloading security software and taking preventative measures against the threat landscape is so significant! 

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