Is malware the same as a virus?
Malware is not the same as a virus. It is a broad term used to describe malicious apps such as viruses, trojans, worms, rootkits, ransomware, and adware. Let’s break them down further.
What is malware?
Malware is a malicious application designed to infiltrate a device and perform specific nefarious tasks such as record a user’s keystrokes, take screenshots, or control the device without authorization. Malware includes all types of malicious software such as worms, trojans, viruses, ransomware, adware, and spyware.
What is a virus
A virus is a specific type of malware that hackers build that reproduces itself and spreads from host to host. Viruses are programmed to infiltrate a computer or a smartphone and steal information, track your online activity, or cause damage to your device.
How much damage can malware do to your phone?
Android malware can cause incredible damage because it may use the device in cyberattacks on other devices, lock you out of the device, increase your data usage, steal your sensitive information, or track your messages and location without your knowledge. In some cases, you may even need to factory reset your Android phone to completely remove the virus.
Depending on the type of malware that infected your device, it may announce itself immediately, cause your device to display signs of an infection such as performance lags, or even sit idly for months waiting for orders from the attackers.
How to detect malware on Android
When malware is disruptive, it’s easy to recognize. But even malware that is designed to sit on your device waiting for orders will still likely show some signs of its existence.
The signs of malware on your Android phone
Here are a few signs of possible malware presence on your device:
- Increased data usage. A malicious app may be running in the background, eating up your data allowance. It’s also possible that you simply have many apps open at the same time.
- Your apps keep crashing. If your apps crash without any reason and more often than before, it may be a sign of a virus.
- Annoying ads. If you see pop-up ads when your browser is closed, you may have adware on your phone.
- 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 trojans, can send high-rate text messages out of your phone and rack up your phone bill without you noticing.
- Your battery drains 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.
- You notice unfamiliar apps. If you notice apps that you don’t remember downloading, beware! They may be signs of a virus.
How to determine if your phone has malware
If you suspect that there’s malware on your Android device, download a reputable antivirus from the Google Play app store and run a deep scan. If the antivirus finds anything, it will likely prompt you to quarantine, block, or delete the infected files.
How to remove malware from an Android phone
Here ‘s how to remove malware from your Android phone:
Use “Safe mode” to check for malicious apps
You’ll have to put your phone into safe mode. This feature will stop third-party apps running in the background. It’s a good indication of whether your device has a virus, too. If the problem you are having stops once you turn your phone on, it may be the fault of a stealthy app.
The steps to using safe mode 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 Android device will restart and go into safe mode. When it does, you should see “Safe mode” at the bottom of your screen.
Look for suspicious apps and delete them
Check for apps you don’t recognize. To do this, go to “Settings”, “Manage apps” or “Apps and notifications” and then “Downloaded apps” or “Installed apps.” Now look for apps that seem suspicious.
Ask yourself whether you remember downloading them or whether you’ve ever used them. If not, delete them. If you are unsure about an app, you can check its name online. You should be able to click on the app and tap “Uninstall.” If you can’t see the “Uninstall” button, you may need to remove the app’s administrative rights. We’ll show you how in the next step.
Remove administrator access
If you can’t uninstall an app manually, it may have administrator access to your phone. However, you can change it. Go to your “Settings,” “Security,” and then look for something similar to “Device Administrators.” Check if any admin apps you don’t recognize are on that list. If so, remove their administrator access. You should now be able to uninstall the app yourself.
How to prevent malware from getting onto your phone
Here’s how you can prevent malware from getting onto your phone in the first place:
- Only download apps from trusted sources. Even when you’re downloading an app from the official Google Play store, double-check whether it is highly rated and has good reviews.
- 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 cyberattacks.
- Don’t click on suspicious ads. If you start seeing unusual pop-ups and ads, don’t click on them because they might be hiding malware.
- Use a trusted antivirus app. It will help you catch malicious apps before they can reach your Android device and do harm.
- Use a VPN for Android. A VPN protects your connection, but it may offer additional security features. NordVPN’s Threat Protection Lite feature blocks dangerous websites and hides annoying pop-ups.