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How to Detect a Virus on Your Android: Protect Your Phone

Updated: March 30,2022

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For a long time, cellphone viruses were considered a modern myth, and most users thought that, unlike computers, our mobile companions are immune to harmful software.

Unfortunately, this was an illusion: In 2004, a hacker group called 29A created a cellphone worm and sent it to several cybersecurity labs for analysis. Since then, cellphone malware is our new reality, but worry not - we are here to teach you how to detect a virus on your Android, and the easiest ways to get rid of it.

Types of Cellphone Malware

Let’s begin by clarifying that Android phones usually do not get affected by standard computer viruses; instead, Android malware mostly comes in the shape of malicious apps that can damage your device, steal your information, or simply spy on you.

Even though viruses in the traditional sense usually don’t affect Android phones, the term “Android virus” is the most commonly used, so we’ll often refer to Android malware like that too. We’ll now go over what types of malicious software hits Android phones and how to remove such malware from your Android device.


Worms are by far the most violent malware that can infect an Android device. They do not require any user interaction to spread and replicate quickly. Worms generally appear in the form of digital media, such as an MMS or even a regular SMS.


Mobile malware also comes in ransomware form, blocking access to your device or personal data. Once they have your device locked down, cybercriminals usually request a fee to restore your access and data. This is something you should never agree to - instead, you should try to remove this threat with the help of an Android virus removal tool. After your phone is clean, you should restore your files and settings with a backup.


This type of malware aims to steal your information and then pass it back to the hacker, so they can sell it or use it against you. Spyware is usually camouflaged as a legit app, and most users catch it by installing what they thought was an official app. Once installed, spyware gains access to practically all the data on your phone, including your text messages, the URLs you’re visiting, and even your usernames and passwords. This is why it’s essential to learn how to locate spyware on your Android.


Similar to spyware, Trojans also take the form of legitimate apps. They require the user to install them, but once that’s done, they can install additional malware on your device, deactivate your other applications, and, in the worst-case scenario, lock your phone.

Malware Prevention

There are multiple steps you can take to ensure your device stays safe. This is especially important if you let your kids use your cell phone from time to time, as they tend to visit potentially harmful pages or download tons of free games that can easily contain malware.

You should start by finding an antivirus for your Android phone and installing it. There are plenty of free virus removal apps you can find online. Another important thing you can do is keep away from unsecured sites or applications.

Here are a few obvious things you should steer clear of:

  • Malvertisements - Most of us have been in a situation where we clicked on some random ad that appeared on our screen while we were in the middle of something else. Even though these ads might look tempting, they sometimes contain some severe malware, and if you don’t have any virus protection for your Android device, these might cause some major damage. By clicking on them, you are actually triggering a virus and starting its download to your device. Some of these ads are even harder to avoid, as they appear in pop-up form, but you can use a pop-up blocker to resolve this issue.
  • Infected Applications - Whenever you find an exciting new app, research it first. The best way to keep away from unreliable apps is to download only those you find on Google Play. Hackers have a way of remodeling popular apps with malware or creating entirely new apps to trick users into downloading them, and you won’t know you’ve got one until you run an Android virus scan. That is precisely why you should stay away from unfamiliar pages or apps.
  • Direct downloads - Connecting your phone with another phone or a computer without defensive software installed might leave your device open to malware. A good rule of thumb is to avoid exposing your phone to any unknown devices or networks.
  • Scams - One of the easiest ways to trick people into clicking where hackers want them to is by using scams. Especially in the case of older phone users, our devices could fall prey to phishing emails or text messages, and we end up needing malware removal for our Android device just to keep using it. This is the most common way of getting your Android device infected, and we would advise you to block any unknown email addresses or contacts.

Now, these tips can help prevent infected files from getting to your device, but what should you do in case it has already happened? First, it’s crucial to understand how to recognize if your device got some harmful data. The sooner you find it, the better the chances that you can remove the malware and repair the damage.

How To Detect a Virus on Your Android Phone

Even though it’s not always easy to discover infected files on your device, as they can be placed really smoothly, there are some signals your phone might be sending you to let you know it’s in danger.

Significant Data Usage Increase

If you notice that you're short on data even when you don’t use your phone frequently, you might want to check your phone for a virus. Malware usually feeds on your data as it operates.

Extremely Short Battery Life

As malware is not optimized, it tends to clear out your battery much faster than legitimate apps. A virus scan for Android can help you resolve this mystery and highlight the files you should be worried about.

Crashing Apps

Apps crashing and glitching periodically is par for the smartphone course, but what if you have multiple apps crashing frequently? This usually means that you are dealing with malware and should inspect further.

Too Many Pop-ups

You can block most pop-ups by equipping your browser with an ad blocker. However, if ads keep showing up even when no apps are running, this could be a signal that your device got infected with adware. To fix that and prevent such issues in the future, install an antivirus for your Android phone as soon as possible.

Phone Overheating

This is something you can easily notice, even if you’re not an expert on mobile phone malware. If your phone appears to be hot to the touch, that is a clear indication that something is wrong. There can be multiple reasons why this is happening, and one of them is a malware infection.

Sudden Phone Bill Growth

If all of a sudden, you notice some unexplainable increases to your monthly phone costs, we would advise you to get in touch with your service provider. These unexpected bill hikes are also an excellent reason to run a virus scan on your Android device, as they are one of the obvious signs of an infection.

Securing Your Device

As you can see, there are more than enough reasons for you to ascertain that your device is properly protected at all times.

One of the measures you can take to stay safe and keep your cell phone away from any possibly damaging files is to use an Android VPN service whenever you’re browsing the web or streaming content. Other than that, you should also consider installing an antivirus.

Now that you know how to detect a virus on your Android and why it’s so important to prevent catching one in the first place, you can go ahead and find a cell phone antivirus program to help with that.

People usually think that they need to pay a lot of money to find a decent, reliable virus removal app, but that’s really not the case. There are a lot of great tools you can get a hold of, and the greatest thing is that most of them come with a free version. If you are on the lookout for the best free antivirus for Android smartphones, you can turn to Avast, as it has one of the best free versions you can find. Apart from Avast, you can also try out Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky, or Bitdefender since they all have free trial options you can check prior to actually paying for a package.

As previously mentioned, make sure to download the desired antivirus app directly from Google Play, as that guarantees you will get an official product that’s secure and safe to use. Once you install it, you won’t have to worry about detecting a virus on your Android, as it won’t even have the chance to reach your device to start with.


Is my phone infected with a virus?

In case you notice strange activity on your device, unfamiliar apps, unusual pop-ups, or an increase in your data usage, you might be facing a malware infection. The best way to check for this is to scan your phone for malware, and if you find some, use one of the various virus cleaner apps to help you get out of trouble.

Can I run a virus scan on my phone?

Of course; an Android malware scanner will help you discover any potential files that could harm your device and remove them in just a few steps.

Can Android phones get viruses?

Android phones do not get infected with common computer viruses, but they most definitely can fall victim to various spyware, ransomware, trojans, or worms. You need to stay away from unsecured URLs and any new apps that have not yet been proven to be malware-free.

How do I check for a virus on my Android phone?

There are some useful tricks on how to detect a virus on your Android that we discussed in this article. To simplify things, as soon as you encounter any unusual behavior with your mobile device, install antivirus software and scan your phone for viruses to restore your personal data as quickly as possible.

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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.

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