Any tech lover’s worst fear is having their device infected with virus. The same holds true for people with phones as well. Do you think your phone is infected with viruses? Do not panic! It is easily solvable… and for totally free.
Do you want to know how to clean your phone from virus for free? Read on…
Can Phones Get a Virus?
Surprisingly, the answer to this question is NO. Then you might question, how can we give instructions on how to clean your phone from virus for free if phones can’t get the virus at all?
To know the answer to that, we first need to differentiate between virus and malware. Although these terms are mostly used interchangeably, they are not precisely the same thing.
Virus and Malware
A virus, in the sense that most of us understand, refers to self-replicating programs that attach themselves to essential files and modify them. These “self-replicating” virus, fortunately, are not found in phone systems, both Android and iOS.
Malware, short for Malicious Software, stands for any program that is harmful to the proper functioning of the device. It includes virus, worms, ransomware, keyloggers, and many more. Viruses, as one can see, are just one single type of malware. Phones, both Android and iOS, can get affected by several kinds of malware.
Can Android and iPhones Get Malware?
Yes, they can!
Android is the king of mobile OS and controls almost three-fourths of the market. Therefore, it is only natural that the malware problem is much more severe for an Android phone. There are also other reasons for malware is a bigger problem on Android phones.
- The open-source nature of the Android OS allows hackers to look at its code and figure out ways to find loopholes and create malware.
- Android also natively allows users to install apps from non-official sources (i.e., not from the Google Play Store).
- Although Android apps have much greater access to the root levels of the OS, which allows malicious apps to wreak havoc. Technically, all Android apps are sandboxed to some extent; they are not allowed to access information from other apps. However, these limitations are easily avoided with some technical knowhow.
- Android has a real problem with pushing updates to their phones. Since the Android OS is open source in nature, many mobile manufacturers opt to modify the core OS to suit their cell phones. This results in several iterations of the Android OS, like Xiaomi’s MIUI, OPPO’s ColorOS, and so on. So whenever there is an update available for the Android OS, mobile manufacturers need to modify that update to be suitable for their own modified version of Android, which results in delays in updates. Often these delays run into several months. Updates are crucial in fixing bugs and loopholes in the OS security vital from protecting the mobile against malware.
Android malware usually comes in the form of malicious apps. Malicious apps appear regularly in the official Google Play Store despite Google’s stringent checking. Furthermore, Android OS allows users to install apps from non-official sources, making it extremely easy to install fake and malicious apps. These malicious apps can install ransomware, keyloggers, spyware, and other similar programs into the OS.
Since Android phones have a real issue with malware, it is important to know the steps to clean your phone from virus for free if you have an Android phone.
iPhones have a better situation when it comes to malware. Technically, an out-of-the-box iPhone device is safe against malware. There are several reasons for this.
- iPhone apps are completely sandboxed, which means that they cannot access resources from other apps or the root OS folders. The iOS sandboxing is much tighter than that of Android’s, which means that even if a malicious app is installed on an iPhone, it still can’t do much damage to the OS.
- iOS updates are regular and rolled out to every single iPhone at once, making its security much tighter.
- iPhone users can only install apps from the official App Store. No outside sources can install apps.
- iOS is closed-source in nature, which makes it harder to find loopholes in its code.
However, remember that all this is just in theory. In practice, however, these limitations can be overcome by jailbreaking an iPhone. Jailbreaking essentially allows the user to access the root folders of the operating system and do things like installing an unauthorized app. However, it also gives the malicious app a free run at iOS!
Therefore, even if you have an iPhone, it is essential to know how to clean your phone from virus for free.
Signs That Your Phone is Infected With Virus
To understand how to clean your phone from virus for free, it is essential to realize that your phone is infected in the first place. Malware is usually stealthy, and the user is mostly unaware of its existence until substantial harm has been done to the device. However, due to its more uncomplicated nature, it is easier to understand a malware-infested phone than a computer. To check whether your phone is infected with malware in it, look out for the following symptoms:
- Low Battery Life: While poor battery life may be caused by many things, more often than not, it is caused by malware. When a mobile phone is infected with malware, it runs several background instances that take a toll on battery life. It is wise to go to the settings and to check which app is consuming the battery. More often than not, it may be a compromised app.
- Slow Phone: Is your phone prolonged, and you can’t explain why? Then the answer may be malware, which might be causing your phone to slow down to a trickle because of using background resources in its bid to damage the OS.
- Unexplained Bills: Malwares may try to steal your banking details, which may result in unexplained banking transactions. Malware may also try to increase phone bills by calling people and sending SMS without user consent. For example, in 2017, a malware called Ztorg Trojan tricked its way into the Google Play Store, disguising itself as an app called “Guide for Pokemon Go.” The malware sent premium SMS and started deleting SMS in the infected phones.
- Too Many Popup Ads: While popup ads are standard on mobile phones, too many popup ads (especially when the phone is not in use) signal a specific form of malware known as adware. Mobile adware displays an unwanted advertisement on the mobile screen to steal personal information or install more malicious apps. One typical example of adware is Agent Smith malware, spread from apps downloaded from the 9Apps app store.
- Unknown Apps Installed: Do you see an app installed on your phone that you do not remember installing? This is one of the most common symptoms of malware. Malware tries to replicate itself by installing more malicious apps to cause as much damage to the OS as possible.
- Increased mobile data usage: If you notice that your mobile data is being used rapidly (even when you are not necessarily using the internet), it may be a sign of malware infestation. Malware usually tries to relay sensitive information from the phone to the central servers, causing high data usage.
- Frequent App Crashes: While app crashes are common in Android and iOS, if you notice that one particular app is frequently crashing, it may indicate that it is compromised by malware.
- Phone Overheating: This is a tricky one. Phone overheating is a widespread problem caused by a myriad of things, one of which is malware infestation.
How To Clean Your Phone From Virus for Free
Depending on whether you have an Android or an iOs phone, the process to clean your phone from virus for free is a bit different.
In the case of an iPhone, the steps are as follows:
- Restart Your Phone: Yes, the old “turn it off and on” trick helps when you’re trying to answer how to clean your phone from virus for free! Just turn off your iPhone by pressing and holding down the power button until you get an option to turn the phone off. Once the iPhone is switched off, hold down the power button again to turn it on.
- Clearing Browser Data: One of the most common sources of malware on an iPhone is from the browser. People often click on suspicious links and unwittingly download malware. If you think that the source of your malware maybe your browser, you may try clearing the history and data of your browser. Go to Settings and then click on Safari. Then click on Clear History and Website Data.
- Restore Previous iCloud Backup: This is where things start to get a bit more technically challenging. If the above steps were ineffective, you may resort to restoring a backup of your iPhone that you made on your iCloud. But, this will only work if you have been using the iCloud backup feature to backup your iPhone. If you have, then go to Settings and then General. Go to the bottom part and then click Reset. After that, click Erase All Content and Settings, and then select Backup Then Erase.
- Factory Reset: Choose this option only when you have exhausted all the above options without any success. Choosing to factory reset your iPhone will erase all data and apps stored in the phone and install the latest version of the iOS. To do this, follow the steps given above. Skip the last step (do not click on Backup Then Erase) and click on Erase Now. Before doing this, however, ensure you have backed-up all your essential files in the cloud.
In the case of Android devices, the steps are as follows:
- Reboot in Safe Mode: This is the most straightforward answer to cleaning your phone from virus for free. Each Android phone has a different way of rebooting in safe mode, although it is usually accessed by pressing and holding down the power button. Find out the form of rebooting your phone in safe mode from the internet. Rebooting into safe mode prevents all third-party apps and files (including the malware) from running so that you can easily identify the corrupt app or file.
- Uninstall Unverified Apps: If you see any app installed on your phone that you find suspicious (maybe it was installed without your consent), promptly uninstall it. The unverified app may be the source of the malware. While uninstalling the app will not altogether remove the malware, it will limit the damage and prevent it from replicating any further.
- Do an App Scan: Google Play Store has a feature that allows it to natively scan apps installed on your phone and find any malicious or suspicious app. Use that feature to scan apps installed on your phone in real-time and remove any malicious apps that you may encounter.
- Install an Antivirus: There are many Antivirus apps available on Google Play Store. Install any app that you prefer and do a full scan of your phone. If the app detects any malicious files or app, delete it promptly. A full antivirus scan should be able to zero in on the malicious agent.
- Factory Reset: As mentioned before, choose this step only when all the other approaches have failed. Backup all the crucial data in a cloud service and then factory reset your phone from Settings. (The exact steps vary from phone to phone)
As you can see, mobile security is an integral part of any mobile, whether it is an iPhone or an Android phone. Mobile users must follow basic security guidelines like downloading verified apps and using strong passwords to prevent their mobile phones from being compromised by malware and hackers.
Therefore, now that you know how to clean your phone from virus for free, install a good antivirus and start removing all the unverified apps now!
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