Do you think you might have a virus or malicious app on your smartphone? This guide shows you how to recognise a smartphone virus. We’ll also discuss the ways to clean up your smartphone.
We’ve all heard about PCs and laptops getting infected by a virus. But how many of us have actually thought about getting a virus on our smartphone?
Nowadays, globally, six times as many smartphones are sold as PCs and laptops. Many people spend more time using a smartphone than they do a computer. We also use our smartphones to bank online and we enter personal data such as our contact and payment information. Furthermore, smartphones are intensely personal: they collect all kinds of data such as our GPS location. With all this data available on a smartphone, it’s no wonder that criminals have been trying to get in.
In the past few years, malicious applications have surfaced as a problem for smartphone users. There are now apps designed to covertly steal your personal data. There are also smartphone viruses which use your phone to send premium-rate calls and text messages.
In general, you can keep your smartphone safe by following some basic security guidelines. Stick to the official application store, avoid jailbreaking your phone, stay clear of pirated software and double-check the permissions before installing an application. But what should you do if you think you might have a virus on your phone?
At present, it’s estimated that 99% of mobile malware targets Android smartphones. That’s not to say that Android is a less secure operating system compared to iOS and Android: only that Android is more permissive on the applications that can be installed. With iOS and Windows Phone, applications can only be installed from the official app store. Applications are also vetted before they go online. With Android, applications aren’t vetted and can also be installed from outside Google Play. On Android, additional care should be taken to avoid malicious apps.
As malware is predominantly a problem on Android, some of the tips provided in this article are specific to Android devices. However, users of iOS and Windows Phone can follow most of the same instructions to diagnose a malicious application.
First of all, if you’ve come to this page after seeing a pop-up message about a virus on your phone, don’t panic. If you’re browsing the internet, it’s quite possible you ran into fake anti-virus pop-ups (see image below for one example of what a fake pop-up might look like).
If you see a virus warning when browsing the internet, the chances are that your phone is actually fine. You’ve just encountered scareware: a web-based scam which tries to convince you your phone is infected. Don’t install any of the software linked from the pop-up: the so-called anti-virus app is likely to be malicious. Simply close the web page and restart your smartphone’s web browser. You should also be careful not to provide any payment details: they could be used to run up fraudulent charges on your account.
After closing the web page, follow the tips in the rest of this article. You’ll want to double-check for viruses on your phone. For extra piece of mind, you can also use a trusted anti-virus application to scan your phone for viruses (never use the app advertised in the pop-up).
If you’re browsing the internet, you might encounter a scareware scam. You’ll see a pop-up message saying your phone is infected. Don’t panic: the chances are your phone is actually fine. Close the web page and follow the tips in the rest of this article. For extra reassurance, you can also scan your phone with respected anti-virus software. Image credit: Symantec.
There are a few tell-tale signs that your device might have a virus:
For more security tips, see our guide on how to stay safe & avoid viruses on your smartphone.
In this article, we’ve discussed how to find out if you have a virus on your smartphone. Don’t be fooled by scareware pop-ups: they’re often there to trick you to installing fake anti-virus software. Instead, look for clearer symptoms such as an app you don’t recognise or strange pop-up messages. If you think you have a virus, double-check the apps you’ve installed recently. You should also do an audit of permissions and an anti-virus scan.
Do you have any top tips for keeping your smartphone secure? Are there any anti-virus apps you’d recommend to other giffgaff members? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!
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