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How to remove malware from Android and iPhone

Jan 17, 2020 · 4 min read

How to remove malware from Android and iPhone

Has your phone recently started acting weird? Are your apps crashing, the phone is overheating, and you constantly see pop-up ads? Malicious apps may be overtaking your phone. Find out how to remove malware from your Android or iPhone.

Can Android phones get malware?

Android devices can’t catch viruses per se. Viruses are usually described as malicious software that replicates itself and corrupts your programs, files, and the overall performance of your device. Such self-replicating malware hasn’t been found on Android phones so far. Therefore, the term ‘virus’ is usually used to describe malicious and fake apps. They can act as spyware, adware, or ransomware.

Such apps can appear on your device because they somehow passed Google Play security check, and you downloaded them, or you got them from an unauthorized third-party app store. What can they do?

  • Install rootkit on your device, allowing hackers to take full control of your device;
  • Charge you if you click on fake ads;
  • Steal your confidential information, such as usernames and passwords, which can then be used in credential stuffing attacks;
  • Lock your device and hold it for ransom;
  • Subscribe you to premium services;
  • Record phone conversations.

Can iPhones get malware?

iPhones are less susceptible to viruses because you can only download apps from the official app store, where all apps had been screened and approved. Also, all iOS apps are sandboxed, which means they can’t access data from other apps or your device. Apple also releases updates for all its devices simultaneously.

Therefore, it’s pretty tricky to catch a virus on an iPhone unless you’ve jailbroken it and downloaded apps from unauthorized third-party app stores.

The signs of malware on your phone

  1. Increased data usage. A malicious app may be running in the background, eating up your data allowance. It’s also possible that you just have a lot of apps open at the same time.
  2. Your apps keep crashing. If your apps started crashing without any reason and more often than before, it may be a sign of a virus.
  3. Annoying ads. If you see pop-up ads when your browser is closed, you may have got adware on your phone.
  4. Your phone bill has increased. If your phone bill has suddenly gone up and you’re not sure why, it may be a virus. Some viruses, like Trojan, can send high-rate text messages out of your phone and rack up your phone bill without you even noticing it.
  5. Your battery gets drained more quickly, or your phone overheats. It may be a sign that there’s a virus working in the background. However, it may also mean that your phone is getting old and needs a battery replacement.
  6. You’ve noticed unfamiliar apps. If you noticed apps that you don’t remember downloading, beware! It may be a virus.

How to remove malware from Android phone

How to remove malware from Android phone

#1 Use an antivirus

Download a trusted antivirus app from the Google Play store and run a thorough scan. If you find any malicious apps, move them to quarantine or block them. You might still need to delete them manually; however, this will prevent them from doing any damage in the meantime. Alternatively, click Resolve, and your antivirus should take care of it.

#2 Manually uninstall malicious apps

  1. Turn Safe mode on

    First, you’ll have to put your phone into Safe Mode. This feature will stop any third-party apps running in the background. It’s a good indication of whether you may have a virus, too. If the problem you are having stops once you turn it on, it may be the fault of a stealthy app.

    The steps will vary for different phone models, so you may want to look them up online. However, most Android phones will allow you to switch to Safe mode by a simple reboot. Just hold the Power button for a few seconds, tap and hold Power Off. You should see the Reboot to Safe Mode prompt. Click OK. Your device will restart and go into Safe mode. You should see Safe Mode at the bottom of your screen.

  2. Look for suspicious apps and delete them

    Go to Settings> Manage apps or Apps & notifications> Downloaded apps or Installed apps.

    Now look for any apps that may look suspicious. Ask yourself whether you remember downloading them or whether you’ve used them at all. If not, delete them. You should be able to click on the app and tap Uninstall. If you can’t see the Uninstall button, move to the next step.

  3. Remove administrator access

    If you can’t manually uninstall apps, the app may have already got administrator access to your phone. However, you can change it.

    Go to your Settings> Security> Device Administrators or something similar. Check if any apps you don’t recognize are on that list. If so, remove their administrator access. You should now be able to repeat Step 2 and remove the suspicious apps.

How to remove malware from iPhone

#1 Clear history and data

It may help to clear your browsing history and data.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down to the Safari tab.
  3. Tap Clear History and Website Data.

#2 Restore your phone to an iCloud backup

This might help you if your latest backup was malware-free. You can see full instructions on how to restore your phone from the latest iCloud backup on Apple’s official page.

How to prevent malware from getting on your phone

There are a few things you can do to prevent malware from getting on your phone in the first place.

  1. Don’t download apps from untrusted third-party app stores. If you’re downloading an app from the official Google Play store, double-check what you are getting. Does it have good reviews?
  2. Don’t root or jailbreak your phone. It might give you more freedom, but it voids your phone’s warranty and makes it more susceptible to cyber-attacks.
  3. Don’t click on suspicious ads. They might be hiding malware.
  4. Use an antivirus. It will help you catch malicious apps before they cause any damage.
  5. Use VPN on your mobile. The NordVPN mobile app has a CyberSec feature that blocks dangerous websites and hides annoying pop-ups. This means you have less of a chance of clicking on malicious content.

Add an extra layer to your mobile’s security. Now with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Emily Green
Emily Green successVerified author

Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.


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