If you’re suddenly seeing spammy notifications for apps you’ve never downloaded, your Android device could be infected with malware. While there’s technically no such thing as an Android "virus", there's plenty of harmful malware can be just as frustrating—it spams you with notifications, uses up data and battery life, and slows down your phone, all while trying not to get caught.
Of course, the best way to get malware on your phone is to download a malware-laden app, so you’re not completely innocent in this scenario. But every Android owner has come across malware at least once or twice, and so you all know that this is exactly how it starts...
After searching high and low, you find an app you must have
Sure, it has no reviews and the description is written in broken English, and you have to side-load it from a Taiwanese website, but…it’s free…
So you download it
What could possibly go wrong?
For a while, everything is fine
See? I told you nothing would go wrong.
Until you start getting six spam notifications a day
50% off Crash of Clans? This is not what I signed up for! And did it say Crash and not Clash of Clans?
And suddenly your battery life is a third of what it used to be
“How did this phone go from 100% battery to 32% battery in 30 minutes?” Background apps, that’s how.
And everything is so…slow…
It’s almost like you’re running 16 apps in the background, but you’re not. Which means someone else is probably running 16 apps in the background.
Well crap, it looks like you downloaded malware
Don’t worry, everyone does it. But yeah, it’s kind of your fault.
Now you have to delete all the apps you downloaded in the past month
All 46 of them. Good luck!
Or you could just grab a free malware remover
Phew – everything’s fine, but you’re still paranoid
And that’s understandable – some apps are clean for a while, and only start spamming you after a mysterious update.
Next time, try reading those reviews
If the reviews say things like “Stay away! This app has malware!” then maybe…stay away, because the app has malware.
Stick to legitimate app stores
Yes, you will find some malware-laden apps on Google Play, but you’ll find far more on a third-party app store.
Stay up-to-date on your Android security
Not sure where to start? Try our no-freakout guide to Android security.