First of all, it’s worth pointing out that it’s unlikely that your Android phone or tablet has a virus. What you’re more likely to be seeing is an ad that wants to convince you Android is infected and you need to download an app, or a dodgy pop-up, or perhaps your device is just misbehaving. But viruses for Android do exist.
If you’re sure your device has a virus, read on to find out how to remove it.
How to avoid Android malware, including how to avoid Godless virus, how to avoid Gunpoder virus, how to avoid Mazar virus
All Android viruses are delivered via apps installed on your device, so if your phone or tablet doesn’t already have a virus, the best way to avoid it is to be very careful which apps you install. A rule of thumb – unless you know what you’re doing – is to never install software outside of the Google Play app store, and by default your phone- or tablet settings will be configured to prevent this.
This is certainly true of the Gunpoder virus
, which hit the headlines after Palo Alto Networks discovered it could sneak on to your phone via Nintendo game emulators installed outside Google Play – and even has the cheek to make you pay for the priviledge. Fortunately, Gunpoder hasn’t been seen to affect UK users as of yet, but it’s still worth taking measures to protect yourself from the Gunpoder virus and other Android viruses that may be released in the future.
More recently the Mazar virus has appeared, arriving on your phone via a link in a text message that downloads the Tor browser. Right now it appears to have affected devices only in Denmark, although it could potentially spread further.
Worryingly, though, the latest Android malware to come in app form – the Godless virus – can be delivered via apps found in Google Play. These are usually legitimate-looking apps, such as copies of games and flashlight apps (Summer Flashlight is one such app), but from unknown developers. Trend Micro
has also found on the web some copies of otherwise clean Google Play apps that include the code.
Godless affects only Android Lollipop devices and has the ability to root your phone and install other (potentially harmful) software. The security company’s advice is to ensure you vet the developer as well as the permissions whether or not you’re installing an app from Google Play.
Step 3 of 7:
To ensure you don’t inadvertently install malware through the installation of apps outside of Google Play, open your Settings menu, look for the Security option, then ensure the option for Unknown Sources (allow installation of apps from unknown sources) is disabled. Also see: Security Advisor
If you’re determined to install an app from outside Google Play, do your research. Check its permissions (does a video player really need to see your contacts?), look online for reviews and have a good look at the developer’s site to see what else it offers. In the case of Gunpoder, be particularly wary of Nintendo game emulator apps.
You can also install an antivirus
app, and plenty of free Android antivirus apps
are available that are able to detect and remove malicious apps, for example 360 Mobile Security, Avast and Lookout. These all include an app scanner that will seek out anything dodgy, but note that these apps can also trigger false-positives – reporting an app you’ve been using for months as malware when you know it’s fine. In most cases you can simply ignore these alerts. Also, again with Gunpoder in mind, these apps may not pick up on malicious behaviour if the app is able to hide it from them – Gunpoder uses the Airpush adware library to conceal that behaviour.
If you believe you already have a virus on your Android phone or tablet – perhaps one that is resisting your attempts to uninstall the associated app or even let you bypass the lock screen – a factory reset
will remove it, returning your device to its out-of-the-box state. But doing so also means you’ll lose everything on your phone that’s not backed up. Instead, follow the below steps to remove a virus from Android.