One of the worst things that can happen to your Android smartphone is that your device is infected with malware. This can have dire consequences for your smartphone, including handing over personal information to cyber criminals, slowing down your shiny new phone, or filling legitimate apps and web browser windows with resource-intensive adverts to generate revenue for digital crooks.
And as a slew of recent warnings from Google and other researchers have shown, malware even manages to slip into the Google Play Store. If you can’t always trust the software found in this curated digital store, how can you spot when you’ve installed a problematic app on your device?
Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-trusted signs that can tell you when your smartphone in harbouring malware.
According to the team at security company Malwarebytes, these are some of the most common signs there is a problem with your handset:
- You’re seeing adverts everywhere – regardless of which app you’re using
- You’ve installed a new app, but the icon has disappeared and you can’t find it anywhere in the App Drawer
- Your phone battery is suddenly draining much, much faster than usual
If you’re experiencing any of these, it could be a sign that you’ve got some malware under the bonnet causing disruption. While not every malicious app is looking to siphon off your credit or debit card details, almost all instances are disorienting – and get in the way of how you would usually use your phone.
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According to Malwarebytes data, it’s pretty common too. The online security firm found close to 200,000 instances of malware on its customers’ smartphones and tablets in May alone. And then the same amount again in June 2020.
So, if you’ve spotted one of these signs what can you do about it?
Well, there a few things you can do to attempt to rid your smartphone of any malicious software.
First – and most importantly, you’ll need to ensure that your smartphone operating system is up to date. Security experts consistently rank a recent operating system release as one of the most important measures that you can take to protect your device and online accounts. If you already have malware lurking on your smartphone, updating to the latest software can patch vulnerabilities – cutting off access leveraged by the malicious software already found on your device.
Of course, update can also keep new malware from being able to get its claws into your handset.
Next up, you’ll need to review the permissions the apps already installed on your smartphone hold – you’ll be looking for something unusual. Does a word game have permissions to send text messages? Seemingly excessive permissions could be a red flag, security experts say.
If you want to remove an app you no longer use – or one that has permissions that concern you – you’ll want to remove all of those permissions before deleting the app. Some malicious apps give themselves administrator privileges, so they can’t just be deleted without a few extra steps. If you’re struggling to remove a specific app, it might be worth researching online to find what has worked for others.
Finally, you might want to use anti-virus software, like Malwarebytes, Norton, McAfee, or Lookout, to scan for anything that looks awry on your smartphone.
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