Despite what some people might think, it is possible to infect your Android phone with a virus. Although you’re not likely to infect your phone, especially if you only download from the Google Play store, you might find yourself frustrated or perplexed if you do. Of course, in ideal situations people wouldn’t download or install from unfamiliar or unsafe websites, the fact of the matter is they do. If you’ve accidentally infected your Android phone, however, you’re probably here to find out how to remove it, so let’s get to it.
First things first, you should be certain you do, in fact, have a virus. Some clever advertisements are designed to convince people that their devices are infected, then persuade them to download a malicious app. If you’ve not downloaded any apps from any unknown websites and you’re experiencing alarming images or warnings that you’ve been infected, chances are it’s a ploy to infect you. If your Android device is infected, you’ll want to continue reading this brief tutorial.
Throughout this article, we’ll teach you how to place your Android into Safe mode and uninstall the virus by first disabling the offending app’s administrator status. This should enable you to effectively and definitively remove the app. Beyond that, we’ll show you how to use the nuclear option, a factory reset. Although this method should remain the last resort, especially if you have anything on your phone that you haven’t backed up elsewhere, it might be necessary in some cases.
The Origins of Android Viruses
Viruses typically piggyback on other programs, usually seemingly harmless ones. In many cases, those viruses remain hidden in code in the apps. Once those apps are installed in your devices, however, the apps unleash the viruses to infect your phone. Some people can even infect their phones by clicking on questionable links they receive via text or email, so you should also take that into consideration before clicking any link.
You can also find clever hackers who’ve managed to piggyback viruses into add-ons or plugins you can download for popular apps, such as Pokemon Go, from the Google Play store. These viruses can spread because they disarm people, so to speak, by betraying their confidence in popular or well-known apps.
The biggest red flag when you’ve accidentally downloaded a virus will be when the app prompts you to grant it device administration rights. These permissions allow it to lock itself into your device, making it difficult to successfully remove it.
You’ll want to ensure that the Unknown Sources setting is disabled. This will prevent you from intentionally or inadvertently downloading any questionable apps onto your device. To disable this feature, go to your phone’s Settings, locate the Unknown Sources option—its location may vary depending on your operating software—and make sure it’s disabled. Keep in mind that enabling this option will allow you to download apps from places other than Google Play, so you’ll want to disable it.
Some clever hackers also make exact replicas of apps, called cloning, and make them available in the Google Play store. These apps, while appearing harmless, usually have a few lines of code embedded in them that can wreak havoc on your phone or even your life.
While some apps can auto-download more apps onto your phone, others might search your device for information, such as banking, social security numbers, personal contacts, and so on. The best way to avoid accidentally downloading a cloned app is to pay attention to the names of the app’s publisher or developer. If you’re downloading Pokemon Go, for example, download it from Nintendo, not a name with which you aren’t familiar.
Whenever you download an app, even from the Google Play store, you should always pay close attention to the permissions settings. Apps never need device admin permission. Granting such permission will prevent you from removing the app. Other apps might not need access to your camera, for example, or your microphone or email contacts. Question every permission requirement or prompt.
Now is a good time to consider antivirus apps, by the way, which you can download from Google Play and install onto your Android device. These apps operate similarly to antivirus programs on computers and could help you prevent another infection.
As with traditional computers, phones, even Androids, are least vulnerable when you’ve maintained constant updates to the operating software. Always download and install the latest update. If you’re using an older device and can’t access the newest updates, make sure your devices is current to the last update available on that specific device.
Before removing a virus, you must put your phone in Safe Mode. The steps to accomplishing this vary by operating software, so you might need to search online for tutorials. Usually, but not always, you can press and hold the button to shut the device’s power off. After the button is held for a few seconds, a prompt will appear asking if you want to launch safe mode.
Safe Mode is an important step because it shuts down all apps not critical to your phone. This will enable you to easily remove the malicious or infected app. Once you’re in safe mode, you’ll want to view your download history. When people accidentally infect their computers or phones, they usually know what did it, or at least suspect a questionable app or software. Locate the app you suspect, or locate any questionable apps, and open the information page by tapping it. From this page, click the Uninstall button.
As its name indicates, the Uninstall button does just that: it uninstalls the app, thus removing it from your phone and relieving you of a massive headache. However, if you open the info page only to discover that the Uninstall button is deactivated—you can see it but pressing it doesn’t do anything—then you’ll have to approach the issue differently, namely by revoking its admin permission.
In the settings menu, go to security, then device administration and uncheck the questionable app. This simple move will revoke its access, allowing you to uninstall it from the info page mentioned above. After you’ve removed the app, restart your phone. The malicious software should be gone, the virus eradicated, and your phone should work like it did before the infection.
If you can’t manage to revoke an app’s device admin permission, however, or if the app absolutely will not uninstall, then you might have to consider a factory reset. Different operating systems require different ways of triggering factory resets, so you should check online to learn how to do it on your device. Be warned, however, that a factory reset will wipe everything from your phone. Only use this option if everything else fails.
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