Unlike biological viruses, your phone doesn’t need to be in contact with another phone who’s infected with a virus or malware, viruses can find their way to your device effortlessly.
And in this global village connected by the internet, our smartphones have become essential extensions of ourselves. Aside from what we use them for, they also contain valuable personal and financial information. However, with great convenience comes great responsibility.
The threat of viruses finding their way into our Android phones is a big deal that needs our attention.
In this article, we’ll explore the following:
- How viruses get into Android phones
- Adverse effects of viruses on Android phones
- How to scan your Android phones for viruses
- How to remove viruses on your Android phones.
This is going to be practical as possible so that you can start scanning your device for viruses today!
Let’s start with how the bad boys enter our phones.
How Viruses Enter Android Phones
There are many ways viruses can enter your Android phones but can all be summarised to:
- Downloading apps from unverified sources
- Clicking on, or visiting suspicious links
- Not keeping your Android OS updated
- Not keep the apps on your phone updated
- Rooting your Android phones
This might seem like you are safe because, to the best of your knowledge, you haven’t engaged in any of the methods listed above. But let’s talk about various ways you might or may indulge in any of them.
How hackers attack smartphones with viruses
A lot of scammers and hackers use this method to attack their victims. You might have probably seen a message that your in-law in Japan left a huge sum of money for you, but to claim it, click on a link to proceed…
Or something like this 👇🏽
Once you click on that link, a virus will quickly be injected into your Android phone to do what it’s programmed to do.
Porn or money bait
A lot of people are horny these days, so they tend to see or indulge themselves in what may satisfy them sexually…
The same thing is applicable to some people who need a quick way to make money.
Hackers understand this and they’re leveraging it to inject viruses into people’s devices.
And the worst thing about this method is that you can come across it anywhere, maybe on Facebook groups or comments, Twitter (now X), and as Ads on websites.
Downloading and installing cracked software or apps
A lot of people intentionally do this in order to save money. So instead of subscribing to a premium version of a software, they’ll find a way to download the software and still use all its premium versions for free.
They are called cracked or nulled applications. Meaning that the original developers don’t have control of the app again because the code has been modified to suit a purpose.
This is the easiest way to introduce viruses into your Android phones.
Those apps that let you watch Netflix for free, use pixellab without subscribing and many other apps you have on your phone can easily put your device in great danger.
Rooting your Android phones
Some phones are using older versions of the Android operating system (OS) and this simply means they cannot get the latest updates that smartphones with the latest Android OS enjoy.
Instead of buying a new phone that comes with the latest Android version, some people are smart enough to force the old Android phone to use the latest Android version or any version of their choice.
You may think that this shouldn’t pose a risk, but what happens is that once you root your phone, you’re telling the phone manufacturer that you no longer need them to help you maintain your phone.
And once you delete their access, they cannot guide your device again and hackers can enter anytime they like.
Not installing apps from the Google play store
If the app is not available on the Google play store but somewhere else, downloading such an app can inject viruses into your device.
Cracked software or apps are one of the methods viruses get into your Android phone, and these apps cannot be uploaded to the play store because they’ll be scanned and automatically rejected.
So downloading apps outside the play store is very risky.
Once a virus enters your Android phone, what happens?
Adverse Effects of Viruses on Android Phones
Some biological viruses can kill, or even destroy a vital part of the body, the same can be likened to a computer virus.
The consequences of a virus-infected Android phone can be dire.
Viruses on your Android phone can lead to:
- data breaches
- unauthorized access to personal and financial information
- slow device performance
- battery drain
- overheating and
- even complete loss of sensitive data
Protecting your device from viruses is not just about maintaining its performance; it’s about safeguarding your privacy and personal information.
Because hackers aren’t interested if your device is slow or fast, they want to get access to your data or control your device on your behalf.
Detecting and Scanning your Android phones for Viruses
There are majorly two ways to scan your Android phones for viruses. They are:
Using Google Play Protect
Google Play Store has a built-in virus scanner that is on every Android phone.
This built-in feature scans apps on your device for malware and it is free to use.
How to scan your Android phones for viruses with Google Play Protect
- Open the Play Store app
- Click on your profile picture at the top right corner
- Click on “Play Protect”
- Then click “Scan apps”
Google Play will scan all the apps installed on your phone for any potential virus or malware and will notify you if there is any.
Using Antivirus Apps
Another way to scan your Android phones for viruses is to use an Antivirus scanner.
These antivirus apps will scan your entire device including files to detect if there’s any virus trying to build an empire on your phone.
To use an Antivirus on your phone, open the Google Play Store app, search for an Antivirus app, and download and install it.
You can now perform the virus scan. Most antivirus software will ask you if you want to perform a quick or full-device scan, for the first time, you can choose full-scan.
It is also possible to enable the antivirus apps to warn you about any incoming virus, or you can set it to automatically remove any incoming virus.
There are tons of antivirus software you can install on your phone, some of them are:
- AVG antivirus
- Avira antivirus
- And many of them.
What is the next step if you discover there are viruses on your phone?
How to Remove Viruses from Android Phones
If you suspect your device has been infected with a virus, there are a couple of things you can do to keep your Android phone clean.
They include using:
Google Play Protect
If the Google Play Protect detects a harmful app, it will prompt you to uninstall it. Follow the on-screen instructions to remove the threat.
Also, whenever you’re installing an app and Google Play warns you, back off immediately and delete the app.
It is highly recommended that you don’t install apps outside the Google Play Store app on your phone.
Read more on how Google Play Protect can keep your device safe.
Removing malware with Antivirus Apps on Android
Always run end-to-end antivirus scans on your Android phones using a trusted app.
If your chosen antivirus app detects a virus or threat, follow its recommendations to remove the virus. This might involve isolating the infected files and cleaning them from your device.
Clear your browser’s cookies and cache
Most viruses affect the browsers, once you click on any suspicious links, it’ll inject something called cookies into your browser.
Depending on the type of cookies, the attacker can access any data stored on the browser’s storage such as your passwords, credit card information, personal data, etc…
If you think your device has been comprised, go ahead and clear all injected cookies on your browser. To do this:
- open your browser app (for instance, Google Chrome),
- Click on the three dots at the top right corner
- Click “Settings“
- Then scroll down a little bit and click on “Privacy and Security“
- Then, click on “clear browsing data“
- Then click the Clear Data button.
This will remove all injected cookies and threats from your browser.
PS: Note that you will need to log in to the various accounts you have saved on the browser. If you think you may not remember your passwords, kindly write them down before performing this operation.
Other safety precautions to clean your Android phones from viruses include
- Avoid rooting your phone, if an app is not supporting your Android OS version, don’t force it. You can also consider getting another phone.
- If your curiosity tempts you to click on any suspicious link, long-press on that link to copy it, then paste it into a new browser (don’t open it with your existing or main browser)
- Always keep your Android apps updated. There’s a reason why the developers update the app, sometimes they realize there’s something in the code that may be vulnerable to hackers, and they’ll quickly fix it and push the update all to you… Ensure you accept and install the update as soon as possible.
- Install the latest phone updates. Go to “Settings” on your phone, then “About Device”. If there’s any update you need to install, you will see a notification here, install it asap but ensure your phone is charged before installing.
In conclusion, protecting your Android phone from viruses is crucial in maintaining your device’s health and safeguarding your personal information.
By being cautious about the sources of apps and files, utilizing the built-in security features, and relying on reputable antivirus apps, you can keep your device safe from potential threats.
Regularly updating your apps and the Android system is equally important to stay ahead of security vulnerabilities.
Stay vigilant, stay secure!