Viruses that target Android are increasing in number every day. There are thousands of them out there and while you might expect them to slow your phone down or stop it working, the latest malware is much more sophisticated. 

Some, such as EventBot will hide themselves away so you don’t even know they’re there. But in the background they’ll steal your data, post fake reviews on your behalf and potentially empty your bank account. 

You might have some far less subtle malware on your phone, such as a web browser that’s redirecting to a porn site or producing dodgy full-screen pop-ups.

But what if there are things going on in the background that you don’t know about?

A misbehaving device is not usually caused by malware, but rather the ever-growing build-up of junk files, which will eventually cause the whole system to slow down (something a factory reset can also help).

Truth be told, Android viruses are incredibly rare if you stick to the Google Play store, or another reputable app store. Stray outside these to the wild web and install APK files from unknown websites and you open your device up to some serious threats. Even the Play Store is not always a safe haven: Google’s Bouncer technology isn’t a cast-iron guarantee that every app you install will be free from malware.

In September 2019 it was confirmed that the Joker malware had been downloaded from Google Play more than half a million times. The virus was found in 24 apps, all of which have now been removed, where it cons users into signing up to premium subscription services without their knowledge.

Method 1: Clear the cache

If you’re seeing pop-ups or redirects, the best thing to do is clear your browser cache, either within the browser’s own settings menu or by going to Apps & Notifications > Chrome > Storage > Clear Cache.

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This is much less drastic than performing a system reset, which is the other surefire way to get rid of an Android virus, and possible via the Settings > System > Reset Options > Erase All Data menu.

Method 2: Boot into safe mode

Android antivirus apps such as Bitdefender Mobile Security are a good idea as they can prevent apps laced with malware from making it onto your phone in the first place. There are other options, too, and we’ve rounded up some of our favourites. They can also detect and remove a virus if you install such as app if your phone is already infected.

But if you know when all the trouble began you can manually remove the malicious app. You’ll almost definitely need to enter Safe mode first, because this stops any third-party apps from running. Try to remove an infected app in normal mode and you’ll likely be denied permission.

If you don’t have an option to access Safe mode in your phone’s Power options menu, try holding volume-down as you reboot the phone. You’ll know it’s worked if you see Safe mode in the bottom left corner of the screen. If not, Google your phone make and model along with safe mode to get specific instructions.

Open Settings and select the Apps & Notifications menu, then scroll down the list and be on the lookout for any suspicious apps that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine Android service. Click the app’s name to open its dedicated App Info page.

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If this is not a preinstalled app you should see an Uninstall button at the top of this page. Press this if you can. If it’s greyed out then it’s likely the app has given itself administrator rights, which you can disable in Settings > Security & Location > Device Admin Apps. 

With the virus now off your Android phone or tablet, all you need to is restart the device to take it out of Safe mode.

Supposing you’ve done all the above and your device is still slow, consider that it may be a case of old age or a new software update that doesn’t play nicely slowing things down. Check out our guide on how to speed up Android. Also read on below for how to avoid becoming a victim to Android malware once again.

Avoid future Android viruses and malware


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