How to Tell if Your Android Phone Was Infected

The possibility of getting infected on Android has been taken seriously ever since malware started appearing on Google Play. The market is flooded daily with different malicious applications, mainly because Google doesn’t regulate its ever-growing market sufficiently. This isn’t exactly good news for you, since your phone may behave strangely one day due to an app. I got a wake-up call recently when my phone was almost infected as a website automatically downloaded an app into it. For this reason, I decided it’s a good a day as any to talk about how you can tell if you’re infected, and what to do to prevent it from happening.

If you’re calling someone and the conversation suddenly stops, try calling another number. Maybe the problem is on the other end. Call a land line. If you still get dropped calls once in awhile, you’re probably infected by malware (unless you’re calling from a tunnel). Malware has a tendency to interfere with calls when it uses your cellular antenna. Sometimes, it even records what you’re saying on the phone. This is a massive breach of privacy that must be stopped immediately.

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The day you get your phone bill, pay close attention to it. If you see a spike in SMS activity or data usage that shouldn’t be there, an app is probably sending messages or relaying data without your knowledge. Some of them send messages just once in a while, making it difficult to distinguish. Ask people on your contacts list whether they’ve seen strange messages from you. If you’re lucky, some people might actually reply to the SMS sent by the malware, demonstrating that something is sending messages on your behalf without your knowledge. Android might even show the message in the conversation window.

Just like viruses in Windows, malware in Android can cause significant drops in performance on the platform you’re using. You’ll either find the phone nearly unusable in the most extreme cases, or you’ll have difficulty switching from an app to your home screen as smoothly as you’re used to. This kind of performance drop is experienced either by a rogue application acting weirdly or malware exploiting your phone’s processing power heavily.

First of all, you should have a competent antivirus app installed on your phone. I’d recommend Avast! or Lookout. This will help you get rid of whatever malware you might have right now. To prevent any infections, take these precautions:

  • When looking at an app on Google Play, check the reviews. If you’re lucky, a few people will come out and say that it’s malware. How many people downloaded the app? If it’s not popular enough for at least 1,000 reviews, you’re taking a higher risk.
  • If the app is new and has few downloads, give it the benefit of the doubt only if the developer has other apps that have decent reviews. You can see this by clicking the developer’s name. An example of its location is depicted below.

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  • Go to “Settings -> All Settings -> Security -> Device Administration” and make sure that the checkbox next to “Unknown sources” is empty. I know I mentioned earlier that Google is having trouble regulating its own booming market sufficiently, but some administration is better than none. Also, this prevents applications like the one that was automatically downloaded onto my phone by some malicious site from running. Since it was downloaded from an unknown source, Android stops it in its tracks before it even gets to lay a finger on my phone’s resouces.

Let’s hear from you. If you have some advice for fellow readers on how to avoid malware, leave a comment below!