AVG Signal Blog Security Viruses How to Find and Remove Viruses on Android Phones or iPhones

How do you know if your phone has a virus? There’s an easy answer: it doesn’t. Phones can’t get viruses. But they can get other forms of malware, and many people incorrectly refer to “viruses on Android” or “iPhone viruses” when they mean malware in general. Forget the terminology — we’ll show you how to use a malware cleaner to remove malicious apps and run a phone virus scan.

Whether you want to get rid of malware manually or use a virus removal tool — such as an anti-malware scanner — to clean it up for you, we’ve got you covered. Ready for Android virus removal? Let’s jump in. Or skip down to learn how to remove an iPhone virus.

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    How to remove a virus from an Android phone

    While a traditional computer virus can’t infect your phone, other types of malware can. If your Android is exhibiting the typical symptoms of an infection, don’t delay — here’s how to remove malware from your Android phone or tablet right away:

    1. Remove malicious apps

    Most Android malware comes in the form of malicious apps. Though Google removes malware from the Play Store as fast as they can, malicious apps are often downloaded thousands of times first. You can clear these apps with a phone malware remover, but if you want to DIY, here’s how to get rid of malicious apps on your Android:

    • Step 1: Go into Safe Mode

      Safe Mode on Android stops all third-party apps from running. It’s a great tool to help identify the culprit behind your Android phone’s unusual behavior. If the problem goes away when your phone is in Safe Mode, then you know a malicious app is to blame. Safe Mode also lets you use your phone normally.

      To enter Safe Mode on most Android devices, press and hold the Power off button. Then confirm via the pop-up that you want to Reboot to Safe Mode. If this doesn’t work, search how to enter Safe Mode for the particular phone you have. If done correctly, you should see the words Safe Mode at the bottom of your phone’s screen once it turns on.

      Rebooting to safe mode in Android 11 to help detect any malicious apps.
    • Step 2: Identify the malicious app

      Open your Settings and choose the Manage apps or Apps & notifications tab (or a similar variation). Go to the Downloaded apps or Installed apps tab and look for any apps that seem suspicious, like apps you don’t remember downloading or that shouldn’t be running on your phone or tablet.

      Is there an app you downloaded around the time your phone started acting strangely? It’s probably the real source of the Android virus.

      Navigating from settings to installed apps to look for any fake apps in Android 11.
    • Step 3: Uninstall the malicious app

      In most cases, you’ll be able to select the malicious app and tap the Uninstall button.

      Uninstall any malicious apps to remove malware from your Android.But if the Android malware or virus puts up a fight, you may discover a greyed-out Uninstall button. This means that the malware has administrator access to your phone and is preventing you from uninstalling it. In this case, see Step 4.

    • Step 4: Remove administrator access

      Go back into your Settings and look for Security or a similar setting, depending on your Android version. Tap Device Administrators (or similar) and check to see if any malicious apps have access.

      Select "Security & location" and then "Device admin apps" to see which malicious apps may have access to your device.

      If so, tap on the app and remove access by either unchecking the blue box or clicking Deactivate. You can now uninstall the malicious app (go back to Step 3). While we’re here, it’s always a good idea to manage your Android app permissions to prevent any apps from running away with your data.

      Here you can remove admin access for any malicious or fake apps.
    • Step 5: Restart your phone

      Restarting your Android phone should now fix your Android malware problem.

    2. Clear your cache and downloads

    Some types of Android malware, like adware, can hide in your browser. If you’re seeing lots of pop-up ads or getting redirected to different sites than you originally meant to visit, it’s time to clear out Chrome to remove malware there. Here’s how to clear your cache on Android:

    • Step 1: Open your Settings and select Apps. Then find Chrome.

      Opening up Settings and finding Chrome in Android 11.

    • Step 2: Select Storage & cache. Tap Clear cache and your cache will clear automatically. Then tap Clear storage.

      Clearing out Google Chrome storage to remove Android malware.
    • Step 3: Hit Clear all data and then confirm your choice in the pop-up.

      Deleting Google Chrome app data in Android 11 to remove malware.

    3. Wipe your Android

    If none of the above steps works, you can pull the plug and start over fresh — by resetting your phone to its factory default settings. This is a last resort — before resetting your phone, try using an Android virus removal app instead. Otherwise, here’s how to factory reset your Android:

    • Step 1: Open up your Settings and select System. Then tap Reset options.

      Opening up Reset options from Settings in Android 11.
    • Step 2: Choose Erase all data (factory reset) and then tap Erase all data. Confirm via the pop-up and restart your phone.

      Factory resetting an Android 11 to get rid of malware.
    • Step 3: Restore your phone. 

      If you have a backup available, you can restore your phone to get your data back. Note that you need to restore from a backup from before your phone started acting strangely, otherwise you risk installing the Android malware again.

    4. Keep your Android device protected

    Rather than going through all the steps described above, you can quickly and easily remove Android malware with an Android virus removal tool for your phone or tablet. Be careful to choose a phone cleaner app from a trusted provider, because some apps are actually malware in disguise. Millions of people trust AVG and our dedicated Android antivirus.

    Here’s how to use AVG AntiVirus for an Android virus scan and easy malware removal on Android:

    How to remove a virus from an iPhone

    iPhone virus removal is fairly straightforward, since iPhone viruses don’t exist, and malware can’t typically break into iOS. Instead, hackers use software developer kits (SDKs) to create apps that can infect your iPhone. If you jailbreak your iPhone or iPad to install apps from outside the official App Store, you may accidentally install one of these malware-infected apps on your iPhone.

    If you think a certain app may be malicious, you can try uninstalling it and seeing if that clears up the problem. 

    If not, you have a few other options. And while none of the following tips involve running an iPhone virus scan (since iPhones don’t get viruses), each will help you figure out if your iPhone or iPad has a virus-like problem that needs to be cleaned up.

    Here’s how to get rid of a virus on your iPhone:

    1. Clear history and data

    This should help if you’re experiencing pop-ups or “Error” messages in your Safari browser. Clearing your history and data will remove any adware-like infections. Simply go to Settings and scroll down to the Safari tab. Then tap Clear History and Website Data.

    Clear Safari's history and website data to get rid of annoying pop-ups or error messages.

    2. Power off and restart your iPhone

    There’s nothing too tricky about this — hold down your iPhone’s power button, wait for the slide to power off slider to appear, then slide to turn it off. To restart your phone, hold down the power button once more and wait for the Apple logo to appear. Yes, we’re suggesting the good ol’ “turn it off and turn it back on again” approach. Trust us, it often works!

    Restarting your iPhone can fix a lot of issues.

    3. Restore from an earlier backup

    If the above methods don’t fix the problem, try restoring your iPhone or iPad from an earlier backup. If your most recent backup isn’t malware-free, you can try earlier backups until you find one that is.

    4. Restore as new device

    This is a last resort, but if all else fails, you can completely wipe your device and start fresh. Here’s how to wipe and restore your iPhone or iPad:

    • Step 1: Open Settings and select General. Then tap Reset.

      To restore your iOS as a new device, first go to settings and select "general" then "reset."
    • Step 2: Choose Erase All Content and Settings.

      Rom the reset menu, select "erase all content and settings".And just like that, you can rise from the ashes like the resilient phoenix you are.

    5. Always keep your iOS device protected

    We don’t recommend jailbreaking your iPhone. Apps downloaded from unofficial sources can put your device at risk. Stick to the App Store to avoid infecting your iPhone. And speaking of apps in the Apple Store…

    Why not download a dedicated iPhone security app to protect you? While your iPhone is unlikely to get a virus, there are many other threats out there. AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad will make sure your passwords stay safe, your Wi-Fi network is secure, and your private photos stay private, even if your phone falls into the wrong hands.

    AVG Mobile Security inspects Wi-Fi networks to make sure they're secure and Photo Vault locks away your private photos and keeps them safe.It’s easy to secure your Wi-Fi and protect your personal files with AVG Mobile Security.

    Ready to take your security up a level? Install AVG Mobile Security for iOS and start enjoying free, comprehensive protection for your iPhone or iPad today.

    Can Android phones get viruses?

    No, Android phones can’t get viruses in the traditional sense. But Android devices are vulnerable to other types of malware that can cause even more chaos on your phone. From malicious adware that plagues your device with endless ads to sneaky spying apps, Android threats abound.

    Unlike self-copying computer viruses, Android malware can’t replicate itself. Rather, malware often infects Android devices in the form of fake, malicious Android apps that sneak into the Google Play store or hide in other third-party app shops. Androids can even get mobile ransomware, which holds your files hostage and demands a ransom to retrieve them.

    One of the reasons Android phones are susceptible to malware is because Android struggles with updates. Updates are important because they often contain critical security fixes to bugs or other vulnerabilities found in the operating system (OS). 

    Android’s open-source system and delayed rollout of updates are two major reasons why you should always use a strong antivirus solution for Android as an added layer of protection. Secure your phone right now with AVG AntiVirus for Android, the free anti-malware app trusted by over 400 million users around the world.

    Can iPhones get viruses?

    No. iPhone viruses don’t exist. And while iPhones are less vulnerable to malware than Androids, there are other security threats you should guard your phone against. Phishing attacks and unsafe Wi-Fi networks are just two of the various threats that can affect your iPhone or iPad.

    What keeps iOS safer? Unlike Android, iPhone and iPad apps can be downloaded only through the official App Store. This prevents fake apps from infecting your iPhone with viruses or other malicious software.

    While iPhone viruses don’t exist, there are other security threats you should guard your phone against.

    Apps for iOS are also strictly “sandboxed,” meaning they can’t access data from other apps or break into your device’s OS. Additionally, iOS rolls out updates to all devices simultaneously, which helps to plug holes and prevent security vulnerabilities so hackers can’t exploit them.

    But if you jailbreak your iPhone, it becomes just as vulnerable to malware as an Android device. If you download apps from sources other than the App Store, you sharply increase your exposure to potential threats. But even without jailbreaking your phone, iPhone users are still vulnerable to other security threats that can cause serious problems — like identity theft

    That’s why we strongly recommend using a robust mobile protection app for iPhones and iPads. Avast Mobile Security for iOS goes way beyond antivirus or malware protection, keeping you safe every time you go online with free, innovative tools specially designed for your iPhone and iPad.

    How to tell if your phone has a virus (malware)

    In many cases, malware wants to stay hidden on your phone — so it’s important to learn how to check if your phone has a virus. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to check your iPhone or Android device for a phone virus. Here are the most common signs that indicate the presence of phone malware.

    1. Adware pop-ups

    Most pop-up ads are just annoying, not malicious. And most of them can easily be blocked by using an ad blocker or a privacy-optimized browser like AVG Secure Browser, which comes with a built-in ad blocker.

    But if you’re seeing pop-up ads on your Android or iPhone even when your browser is closed, you could be dealing with adware, which is a type of malware that spams you with extra ads.

    2. Excessive app crashing

    Many apps crash periodically, but if your apps start crashing regularly for seemingly no reason, your phone could be infected with malware.

    3. Increased data usage

    If you notice a sudden spike in data usage, that could be a sign that malware is running background tasks on your device or transmitting information from your phone. (While you're at it, find out how to control your data usage on mobile phones.)

    4. Unexplained phone bill increases

    Some malware strains attack by sending premium-rate SMS messages from your phone, causing your phone bill to skyrocket. Ztorg Trojans were found doing this in 2017, in addition to deleting incoming messages.

    5. Your friends receive spam messages

    Some malicious software can hijack your messenger service and spam all your contacts with infected links. If your contacts tell you they received a weird message from your accounts, investigate right away.

    6. Unfamiliar apps

    If you notice an app on your phone that you don’t recall downloading, stay away. Fake apps are a common symptom of malware on Android phones, and they should be uninstalled immediately. An anti-malware phone scanner will take care of this in a few quick taps.

    7. Faster battery drain

    Malware mischief can use up a lot of energy, rapidly depleting your Android or iPhone battery. If your battery is dying faster than usual, malware might be the cause.

    8. Overheating

    While the majority of reasons your phone is overheating are normal and relatively harmless, it’s also possible that the cause is a malware infection.

    Stay immune from viruses and malware

    Even the most thorough anti-malware plan could use a bit of extra help from the experts. Install AVG AntiVirus for Android or AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad, two simple yet incredibly powerful free apps that will keep you protected from whatever threats emerge over the horizon.

    How to avoid iOS and Android malware

    The best way to make sure your phone stays safe is to avoid malware altogether. Follow these digital best practices:

    • Download apps from trusted sources. Google and Apple both vet apps for security before allowing them into their stores. Avoid third-party app stores, and don’t jailbreak your iPhone.

    • Check apps for safety. Despite their security precautions, the official app stores occasionally allow malicious apps to sneak in. That means you should always assess apps for safety before downloading them. Review the developer profile, read user reviews, and check the download count. Avoid downloading anything brand-new or from questionable developers.

    • Research before you install. User reviews are great, but you can also see what the pros have to say. Consult expert reviews and independent evaluations of any new app before putting it on your phone.

    • Keep your phone updated. Software providers often issue updates to fix bugs and plug security holes. Always update your phone’s operating system and apps with the latest version.

    • Don’t click suspicious links. Suspicious links in emails, SMSs, or on social media can contain malware. Don’t click on any links you weren’t expecting to receive.

    • Be careful on public Wi-Fi. Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks make it too easy for hackers to intercept your traffic. Avoid doing anything sensitive on public Wi-Fi unless you’re using a VPN.

    • Use cybersecurity protection. Whether you have an Android or iPhone, a security app will help protect you against malware, phishing, and other mobile threats.

    Watch out for malicious apps

    One of the easiest ways to tell if your phone has a virus or other malware is by looking out for malicious apps. Downloading a malicious app is an easy way for Android malware to get on your device. Once there, it can quickly compromise your online security.

    One of the most common strains of Android malware in recent years is Hummingbad. First detected in 2016, Hummingbad spread through third-party app stores and the Google Play store. It tricked users into clicking on fake ads that generated money for the attackers. The malware also installed rootkits that gave hackers total control over infected devices. 

    Other fake apps, like fake games, wreaked similar havoc — like Finger Hockey for Android, which stole confidential info from players. 

    And while it’s rarer, iOS malware does exist. In 2015, an iOS malware strain known as KeyRaider targeted jailbroken iOS devices. It stole user information from more than 225,000 Apple accounts, including usernames, passwords, and purchasing information. KeyRaider also encrypted some iPhones and iPads and demanded a ransom to unlock them.

    What malicious apps do on phones

    Above are only some examples of how mobile malware can overrun your device. Other forms of malware have been known to:

    • Subscribe phones to premium services or send premium SMS messages.

    • Record phone conversations and send them to hackers.

    • Collect your personal information, including your GPS location, contact lists, photos, email address, banking details, etc.

    • Rack up unexpected charges through data depletion, unusual SMS charges, or unauthorized app charges.

    • Take over your device through rooting.

    • Infect you with ransomware, locking you out of your files.

    So, before you download any shiny new apps, it’s best to check if they’re safe. Some apps might be clean when you download them, but later get infected with malware through updates — so it’s important to stay alert.

    And the best way to do so is to install AVG AntiVirus for Android or AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad. Each of these apps has been designed and built by the world’s foremost digital security experts to ensure that whatever threats are out there, they stay far away from your device.

    How to remove a virus from an Android tablet or iPad

    Struggling with malware on your tablet or iPad? With an anti-malware cleaner, you can remove malware on a tablet just as easily as on a phone. Tablets run the same operating systems as phones, so the virus removal process is the same. Jump back up to the steps to remove malware from Android to get the tablet cure. Or head to the steps to remove a virus from iPhone to take care of your iPad.

    Dealing with a virus or malware on your PC or Mac? See our detailed instructions on how to remove malware from your computer.

    Protect your phone or tablet the easy way

    In today’s world, we use our smartphones constantly. And they contain intimate details about our life. Don’t let hackers in — get strong walls around your smartphone castle with a handy app. 

    With our cybersecurity protection, you can prevent adware, spyware, phishing, unsafe Wi-Fi networks, and a whole host of other mobile threats. Download AVG AntiVirus for Android or AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad today for the free protection that millions of people all around the world trust every day.

    Protect your Android against viruses and malware with AVG AntiVirus

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