Android Malware: 5 Signs Your Device Is Infected and How to Get Rid of It

It may seem a little far-fetched that malware can make its way onto our phones and tablets. After all, viruses are something that computer owners have to worry about. There’s no way that something like Android malware exists, right?

Unfortunately, while there may have been a time where installing antivirus on a phone would have raised eyebrows, things aren’t as simple anymore. Malware developers are always looking for the most prolific technology out there to ensure their attacks hit as many people as possible. Back when smartphones were relatively new, you probably wouldn’t have worried so much about viruses. Now that smartphones have made their way into everyone’s lives, virus developers have stepped up their own game and began to target them.

The following will explain how you will know when your device is infected with something bad.

1. Performance Begins to Drop

If the malware tries to perform somewhat intensive tasks on your phone, you may find that your device begins to slow down as it takes up processing power to do its job. This results in slower loading, apps hanging, and long boot times. It may also cause interruptions and other weird occurrences while making a phone call.

If you have this issue on your phone, first make sure that it’s not being clogged up by apps and widgets you’ve installed. This specific problem can be easily fixed by removing or disabling resource hogs on your device. You can check for resource hogs by going to your Android settings, then Apps.


Here, swipe left on the “Downloaded” page.


Then, check the RAM usage on the “Running” page, as well as how much RAM each individual app is using.


If a specific app is taking up your resources, it should show up on this screen. If you don’t have anything big running or if you manage to eliminate the big resource hogs and your phone still gives you trouble, it’s worth investigating the possibility of Android malware.

2. The Battery Drains Faster Than Before


As we covered above, malware sometimes needs to perform a system-intensive task to do its job. This slows down the system, but it also has a secondary effect: all that processing power has to be fuelled by the battery. This results in your device keeping its charge much less than beforehand and requiring more charges across the week than before.

Again, there are multiple reasons for a fast-draining battery, such as an intensive app you’ve deliberately installed or your battery getting old. To check if an app is draining your battery, go to the Android settings, then Battery.


The screen that pops up will show you the biggest energy drainers on your system.


If you can’t see any big offenders, and you’re sure the battery is still healthy, it might be a case of malware.

3. Unexplained Data Usage and Phone Bill Spikes


Often, Android malware isn’t there to just annoy and harass you. Sometimes it’s installed so it can perform a specific job its developer wants to perform. This may include communicating to an online server which will involve using your 4G connection. It may also include subscribing to and sending messages via premium SMS services which charge quite a lot per message and makes money off of unsuspecting victims.

Both of these can be detected after the damage has been done. (ideally, however, you’d want to catch it beforehand!) Keep an eye on your phone bill and data usage, and make note when you see a sudden and unexpected increase in usage. If you spot one, and you can’t explain why it’s there, make sure to check for malware right away.

4. Sudden Adverts

You may also notice an increase in advertisements shown to you while using your device. Everyone knows of the free apps that sometimes show an ad or two to help cover company costs, and seeing one of these in a free game or app shouldn’t set off any alarm bells. However, if you see them beginning to creep into your notification bar, or even dominating the entire screen while no apps are loaded, there’s a good chance there’s malware on your system causing them or at least a very poorly-behaving app.

5. Unexplained Apps

Do you have apps on your system that you could have sworn you never installed? Or perhaps you’re getting weird messages in your notification bar from apps you’ve never heard of? Android malware sometimes acts by slipping apps onto your system without you agreeing to it. The result is an influx of apps popping up that you don’t remember installing. This takes up a lot of space and resources for apps you actually want to use.

Help! I Think I’m Infected!


So now you know the possible symptoms of a virus on an Android phone. So, how do you get rid of one? Or, even better, how do you prevent yourself from getting one in the first place? And what about viruses that have unnoticeable or no symptoms whatsoever?

The first thing to do is not to panic and install the first antivirus you see. Installing and running an inefficient antivirus can sometimes do as much, if not more, damage than an actual virus! If you want to protect your device and save it from damage, you’ll want to make sure you get the right antivirus for the job.

The first thing to do is ask yourself if there’s a PC antivirus that you’ve always trusted and liked. If this is the case, there’s a strong chance that the company has developed an antivirus for mobile devices as well. Check with your favourite antivirus developer to see if they have a mobile version of their antivirus. If they do, install and run it to check for any potential malware.

If you don’t have a favoured antivirus solution, or your favourite antivirus company has a lackluster (or no) antivirus solution for mobile devices, you can always check our guide to the top mobile antivirus solutions and download the one that catches your eye the most.

Keeping Aware of Malware

With mobile devices becoming widespread, so, too, has the potential for malware to do damage. Now you know the symptoms of an infected device and how to fix it. Even better, you now know how to prevent your device from being infected in the first place.

Do you have any stories of a particularly nasty Android malware attack? Tell us about them in the comments below. Let us know what it did and what you used to solve the problem!

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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