Android malware is available in all shapes and sizes; here's how you can defend your smartphone against it.
Previously in part 1 of The Avast guide for Android apps, we have covered all the common malware and how to deal with them. In the second part of our current series, let's take a closer look at the dark world of Android viruses, how they can infect your smartphone and what you can do to amplify your immunity against them. Let's dive inside
The first mobile virus
For a long time, the mobile virus has been considered a bit of a myth. However, this was put to rest after a Czech Republic and a Slovak group called 29th he created a virus called Cabir and sent as proof of the concept to various professional computer security laboratories. Once installed, the virus, a network worm, will infect Symbian and Series 60 OS through an active Bluetooth connection and display the word "Cabir" on the screen of the infected phone. Being simply a proof of concept, it did not cause any harm though.
Unfortunately since then more dangerous iterations have emerged. Some of the most popular instances include:
- SymOS / Kiazha.A – a Trojan ransomware that hit the Symbian operating system and deleted incoming and outgoing SMS messages.
- CommWarrior – Another threat that restores the phone on the 14th of each month. The images of the skulls are installed as a theme package, but the file is activated to disable programs and applications. It also turns all the phone icons into Jolly Roger or jigsaw images.
Many of these threats have emerged since smartphones have become popular and many others continue to emerge every day. Since cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to trick users into installing their malware, the best solution is to understand how these threats work. Below is a brief summary of Android malware.
Types of mobile viruses
Since cell phones have become so an integral part of our lives, unfortunately they have also become much more a profitable target for cyber criminals. This makes sense considering that many of us store important information such as bank details and sensitive information on our phones. Android viruses are available in many flavors, each with its own peculiarities and its entry vectors designed around a certain vulnerability. The following are the most common …
spyware – This type of malware is designed to stealthily gather information from your phone and transmit it to the C & C (command and control server). Spyware is disguised as legitimate applications, which is the way cybercriminals try to trick the user into installing it. Once installed, they start recording information including text messages / text messages, browsed URLs, application activity, keystrokes, user names and passwords.
ransomware – This malicious program encrypts and blocks important files, so it offers to release them only if you pay a ransom. Spoiler warning: almost never release files. But since so many users have very important data on their smartphones, the impulse to yield and pay is strong. (But do not do it!)
Worms – These are the deadliest types of viruses for Android phones. Designed to reproduce infinitely, worms do not need any interaction from the user in order to be executed. Generally they arrive via SMS, MMS or other digital media.
Trojan – These links on legit applications and infect the phone once installed. Unlike worms, trojans need a user to install them before they can perform their actions. Once activated, Trojans can disable certain applications or lock the phone for a certain period of time.
Infections from Android Vs iPhone
Just like the debate between Windows and iOS, the two well-known mobile operating systems respond to different types of malware, each of which targets a specific vulnerability. Unfortunately, Android users are at greater risk of acquiring malware infections because there are more marketplaces on the Web than the Google Play Store that distributes Android apps. Some are protected sites, others are not.
The iOS apps, on the other hand, can only be downloaded from the official Apple App Store that uses some of the most robust security measures in existence. Apps on iOS are also in sandbox mode, which means they can not interact with other applications or the operating system beyond a certain point. That said, iOS and Android users are amenable to phishing attacks by e-mail or even by SMS messages.
Even apps in Android are in sandbox, but to a lesser extent. Android may be the most popular mobile operating system in the world, but it is struggles with the update of all its users at the latest secure version of their operating system. A problem that Apple has long solved. Using an antivirus solution like Avast Mobile Security It will do much to ensure that your devices are never compromised.
How do you know if your phone has a virus
Knowing if your phone is infected can become complicated, but some symptoms of the Android virus manifest themselves as a scourge. Here's what you should look for …
App that get stuck … a lot – Some apps tend to crash from time to time. However, if you find that multiple apps are blocking too frequently, you may be dealing with an Android virus.
Increasing the use of data for no apparent reason – Finding the data limit dropped far more than expected after bingeing in a GOT season is understandable. But what if the same thing happened after your phone stayed in your pocket all day? It may be time for a check.
The ads continue to tick – Those annoying ads can be easily blocked with browsers like Opera. But if they start popping up when there are no apps running, then the bad truth may be that you have an adware infection.
The battery is discharged in a blink of an eye – Because most mobile viruses are not optimized, they tend to drain the battery faster than most other apps.
The phone bill is on the roof – Similar to the high data usage, a sudden inexplicable increase in the phone bill is a perfect Android antivirus warning.
Non-family apps – Many of us usually do not bother to check to see if that new app is legitimate or not. This oversight can be expensive as you may inadvertently give a fake app the keys to your phone kingdom.
The phone starts to overheat – While there may be various reasons why the phone is overheating, malware is often one of the main culprits.
Looking for mobile viruses
To make sure none of the above happens to you, it's critical that you know how mobile malware makes its way into your phone. There are four locations that can use …
Infected applications – The most common MO of hackers, popular applications are repackaged with malware and then distributed through app stores. Cyber criminals will often find completely new applications designed specifically to trick users into installing them.
Malvertisements – malvertising it's the practice of inserting viruses into ads distributed through ad networks. Just click on an ad to activate the download of a virus, infecting the device.
Scams – Users are sent links to infected Web pages containing malicious code. Just visit the page to start the virus download on your phone (unless it is protected by a antivirus software).
Download from device to device – The least likely type, direct device infections require that the hacker attach a targeted device to another and manually install the malware on it. This is the high profile corporate espionage material.
How to remove a virus from Android phones
So your worst fears have been confirmed and all the signs indicate a virus infection. Your phone is not yet condemned! Here are some methods that will help you get rid of that annoying infestation in no time.
Perform a reliable antivirus scan
Skip to Google Play and download an & # 39; antivirus application. But first, do your homework. Keep in mind that the antivirus apps are a dozen dozens and there may be viruses hidden by viruses hidden within them. Install only apps from reputable developers and if you ever suspect the app might be a fake, Google can see if it is.
See also third-party labs like AV-TEST is AV-Comparatives. These organizations independently test the anti-virus apps and publish the results publicly. (The free Avast Mobile Security for Android always earn high marks.)
Avast Security Pro
Manually remove the virus from the phone
In cases where, for any reason, antivirus software may prove to be ineffective, you can try to uninstall malware manually …
Step 1 – Put your phone in Safe mode. This way, all apps are turned off, including malware. Some Android phones will leave you Restart in safe mode, some other phones need a some extra steps to do so.
Step 2 – One time Safe mode is activated, go to settings > applications > App downloaded. Search for the app or apps you think do not belong to this. The best starting point is with the apps you installed just before your phone starts behaving strangely.
Step 3 – When you've found the app, touch Uninstall delete it forever. Virus infected apps often disable the uninstall button, in which case …
Step 4 – Go to settings > Safety > Device administrators. Check to see if the app is listed in the list. If it is, just click Disable to remove your access privileges. Now, go back to the app App downloaded. The Uninstall the button should now be available.
If all else fails, a factory reset may be your last option. Remember that doing so will delete all app and app data from your phone, which is why it is a good idea to set up periodic backups of data.
To restore your Android phone …
Step 1 – Go to settings > Backup and restore > Factory data reset. Now touch Reset phone.
Step 2 – Enter the access code as required to continue.
Step 3 – Restart the phone.
Step 4 – Restore any backup made before installing the problematic app.
Focus on protecting your device
While due diligence is always advisable, you should consider adding as many levels of security as possible. An & # 39; antivirus app updated as Avast Mobile Security for Android It can go a long way to ensuring that your device never gets infected. Not only does it scan real-time files and apps for malware, but it also increases speed by disabling unnecessary tasks.
Finally, ignore third-party app stores and manually install APK files from regular websites like the plague. Because they are the preferred methods by hackers and cyber criminals alike, your chances of installing something harmful increase exponentially.
Looking forward to part 3 of our Avast guide for Android apps … has your phone ever been hotter than you thought it should be? It could be the signal of an urgent problem lurking beneath the surface: battery problems, malware infection or hardware malfunction. In part 3 of our guide, we discuss all the reasons why the phone might feel like you're melting and how you can cool it down.