While they originally became well-known due to their impact on computers and laptops, viruses have found a new additional source of prey in the last couple decades: Smartphones. Viruses can absolutely impact your phone, targeting its weak points in many of the same ways as they would for a computer, but taking the right steps and precautions will prevent this from happening to you.
At PC Laptops, we’re happy to offer both Android and iPhone repairs for a variety of issues, including problems with software and viruses. How do you know if your phone is dealing with a virus, and what are the varying types of mobile phone viruses out there? Here’s a primer on these important areas, plus some basic steps on DIY removal of a virus for both iPhone and Android models.
Signs of Phone Virus
In many cases of viruses impacting your phone, you won’t know right away. Most viruses, which are sent into your phone via malware, will remain dormant for at least some period of time, allowing you to use the phone in all its normal ways.
Over time, however, you may begin to notice certain specific performance or usage issues. These include all of the following:
- Fraudulent charges: Certain viruses, such as trojans, may make in-app purchases and run up text charges to premium accounts, with the goal of collecting them later via hacking.
- Crashing apps: While apps may crash on phones for a few reasons, repeated issues here – plus a lack of another good explanation, such as limited storage – may be due to a virus.
- Excessive data: Viruses may also run programs or functions in the background, and these may use data – which in turn could increase your data use and costs.
- Battery concerns: Down similar lines, background behavior and related issues may lead to your battery draining much faster than usual. This is an especially noticeable sign if there’s no other legitimate reason for your battery to be functioning so poorly.
- Pop-ups: Certain pop-ups while on your phone’s browser are to be expected, but are you seeing them even when your browser is closed? This could be due to adware, a type of malware that tries to mine your data.
- Overheating: Is your phone overheating regularly without any other explanation? This could be due to malware that’s using up RAM and CPU quickly.
- Spam texts: Finally, have friends or colleagues informed you that they’re receiving suspicious texts from you that make no sense? This could be due to a common virus format that will gather data and attempt to infect contacts through sending them text messages.
Types of Phone Viruses
Hackers continue to create new virus formats and improve the way they attack devices, so our defenses have to be equally adaptable. Here are some of the most common broad designations for phone virus types out there today:
- Adware: As we noted above, adware is a form of malware that usually shows up via pop-up. These may simply seem irritating, but in reality they might be tracking your activities and rooting your device in an attempt to steal or compromise your data.
- Spyware: One virus type that comes disguised as what appears to be a legit application is known as spyware. Once it’s on your device, it will load itself into various areas and track location, activity, usernames, passwords and more. Spyware is one of the toughest virus types to detect, including some situations where data is stolen without the user having any idea.
- Ransomware: Ransomware originated on computers, encrypting personal information and making it impossible to access – before demanding a ransom allowing file release. This same theme is now sometimes carried out on phones.
- Trojan horse: Typically arriving via text message, trojan horses are viruses that will infiltrate the device and send out messages to others at a premium, including in ways that increase your bill.
- Worm: Another text-spread virus is the worm, which attempts to spread to as many devices as it can to allow hackers to load malware and steal big swaths of data.
iPhone Virus Removal
While iPhones are generally pretty secure, it’s not impossible for them to get a virus (especially if the phone is jailbroken). Here are the basic steps that go into removing a virus from an iPhone:
- Clear your data history completely: Under Settings, choose your main browser, then tap Clear History and Website Data.
- If the problem remains, restore the phone to an older backup: Under settings and Apple ID, select iCloud. Go to Manage Storage, then Backups. From here, choose your most recent backup and restore it.
- If this doesn’t work, reset the phone as a last resort: Open Settings, then choose General. Find the reset setting, and select Erase All Content and Settings. This will reset the phone back to factory settings.
Android Virus Removal
Android devices, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to viruses and malware than iPhones. Here’s the basic method for removing a virus if you think you have one:
- Clear your cache: Go to apps and notifications, and find your Chrome browser. Enter storage and select Clear Cache.
- Boot in safe mode: Press and hold the power button, then choose Reboot to Safe Mode when a dialogue box appears.
- Find the bad app: Open settings and select apps, then manually review your apps and look for suspicious downloads. If you find one, open and uninstall it immediately.
- Enable Play Protect: Play Protect is a built-in software that works in addition to antivirus software. Enter the play store app and open the menu in the upper left, then turn on the option to scan the device for security threats.
For more on phone viruses and how to get rid of them, or to learn about any of our phone repair, device repair or computer services, speak to the staff at PC Laptops today.