Remove Viruses & Malware from your Android phone (Free Guide)

If your Android phone or tablet is acting weird, you’re seeing unwanted advertisements, or the browser is redirected to suspicious sites, then your phone might be infected with malware. Can my Android phone get infected …

If your Android phone or tablet is acting weird, you’re seeing unwanted advertisements, or the browser is redirected to suspicious sites, then your phone might be infected with malware.

Image: Malicious apps in Google Play Store
Image: Malicious apps in Google Play Store

Can my Android phone get infected with malware?

Make no mistake about it, there is such a thing as Android malware, cybercriminals create malicious apps to steal personal details, display unwanted advertisements, or to redirect the victims to malicious sites. Apps designed to personalize people’s Android-based phones are most susceptible to be compromised, as well as entertainment and gaming apps.

The vast majority of malware on Android is focused on stealing your information such as banking details, contacts list, or other personal details. However, there are plenty of malicious apps that will display unwanted advertisements on the phone or within the browser and redirect victims to malicious sites.

These malicious apps can be found in Google Play Storer because they slip through the cracks, often disguised as legitimate ones. As an example, a fake camera app recently appeared in the Google Play store and managed to secure more than 100,000 downloads before being detected and removed.
Other malicious apps, are advertised as premium apps that you can install for free. Cybercriminals get a legitimate Android application package (APK) file and binding it with a malicious program to infect Android phones. Most pirated or cracked apps usually contain some form of malware so we advise you not to install such apps.

Here are the most common actions that a malicious app will perform on an infected Android phone:

  • Collect and send your location data, contact lists, e-mail addresses
  • Steal your banking or financial details
  • Subscribe your device to unneeded premium services
  • Record phone conversations
  • Download other malware on your phones
  • Display advertisements in places they shouldn’t be such as the lock screen or overlaying other apps and sites.
  • Change the web browser’s homepage and search engine without your permission.

When an Android phone is infected with malware, you may notice poor device performance, a battery that drains much quickly, unexplained data usage, or apps that unexpectedly crash. You should keep in mind that some of these symptoms can just mean your device is simply overloaded with junk.

How did my phone get infected with malware?

Malicious apps such as adware or browser hijacker are installed by the users, whether that is knowingly or not. The key thing to remember about malware on Android is that you have to actually install the malicious app. Malware writers will use increasingly clever techniques to try and trick you into doing just that.

As malware writers try to earn money for their bad deeds, they continually look for new ways to get their malicious software installed on your phone. The best recommendation is still to think twice before installing untrusted software or clicking on strange-looking links.

When downloading apps it’s recommended that you only do so from a legitimate app store such as the Google Play Store, Samsung Store, or another major manufacturer. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

To remove malicious apps and check your phone for other malware, please use the free malware removal guide below.

Remove Viruses, Adware & Malware from Android Phone (Guide)

This malware removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the number of steps and numerous programs that are being used. We have only written it this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy to understand instructions that anyone can use to remove malware for free.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubts at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.

To remove malware or a malicious app from your phone, follow these steps:

STEP 1: Start your phone in Safe Mode

In this first step, we will start your phone in Safe Mode to prevent malicious apps to interfere with the next steps. We’re using Safe mode because it starts Android in a basic state, with only the factory apps and settings.

  1. Long press the power button.

    Long press the hardware power button (located on the side of your phone) until the power off menu appears.

  2. Tap and hold on “Power off”.

    When the power off menu appears, tap and hold on the “Power off” button on your screen until you get the “Safe mode” option.
    Long press the hardware power button on your Android phone until the power off menu appears

  3. Tap on “Safe Mode”.

    When the “Safe mode” option appears on your screen, tap on it to enter safe mode.
    Long press power off to enter Safe Mode

  4. Your phone is in Safe Mode.

    Your Android phone will now restart and enter into the safe mode. When your phone is in safe mode, you’ll see the “Safe Mode” text at the bottom left corner of your phone. You can now continue with the next step.
    Safe Mode Android
    If you can’t find a safe mode on your phone, activate Airplane mode instead, to cut your device off from any networks.


STEP 2: Remove malicious device admin apps from your phone

The administrator privileges are used by apps to perform legitimate tasks such as device management or for antivirus apps to do a remote wipe. Unfortunately, these elevated privileges are also being used by malicious apps to prevent victims from removing the malicious app from the phone. In this second step, we will check the phone to see if there any malicious apps with administrator privileges installed on your phone.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Go to “Device admin apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, if you’re using a newer version of Android or a Samsung phone, tap on “Biometrics and Security“, then tap on “Other Security Settings” and then on “Device admin apps“.

    However, because there are phones with different versions of Android the “Device admins apps” settings may be in a different menu, so below we’ve listed other common ways to reach the “Device admin apps” options:

    • Security > Device admin apps
    • Security & privacy > Device admin apps
    • Security > Device Administrators
    • Lock Screen and Security > Other Security Settings > Phone Administrators.

    If you’re having trouble finding the “Device admin apps” settings, you can use your phone built-in search function to search through the Settings.

    Tap on Biometrics and Security > Other Security Settings > Device admin apps - Android

  3. Disable administrator privileges for the malicious app.

    Once you’ve accessed the list of device admin apps, disable admin rights by tapping the option to the right of the app. This will remove the checkmark or toggle the button to the off position. Now you can delete the app normally as seen in the below step. On some phones, you can tap the app right there in the admin apps list and then use the Uninstall app link to remove it immediately.

    Disable admin rights for the malicious app - Android
    If there is no malicious app with administrator privileges on your phone, then you can continue with the next step from this guide.


STEP 3: Uninstall the malicious apps from your Android phone

In this third step, we will check if any malicious apps are installed on your phone. Sometimes browser hijackers or adware apps can have usable Uninstall entries that can be used to remove these apps.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find the malicious app.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the applications that are installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious app. Look out for any suspicious app that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program. Most often, cybercriminals hide malware inside the video or photo editing apps, weather apps, and camera apps.

    Here are some known malicious apps: ES File Explorer, Xender, Amber Weather Widget, GO Weather Forecast & Widgets, Kitty Play, Touchpal, Z Camera.

    The malicious program will most likely have a different name on your phone. If you cannot find any malicious app on your device, you can exit “Safe mode” (as seen below) and continue with the next step from this guide.

    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Uninstall the malicious app

    When you find a suspicious or malicious app, tap on it to uninstall it. This won’t start the app but will open up the app details screen. If the app is currently running press the “Force stop” button, then tap on “Uninstall”.
    Uninstall malicious app from Android

    A confirmation dialog should be displayed to confirm you want to uninstall the app, tap on “OK” to remove the malicious app from your phone.

    Confirm uninstall app from Android phone

  5. Exit “Safe mode”.

    Now that we’ve removed the malicious apps from your phone, we can exit “Safe mode”. To do this, hold the power button on your device until you get the power off menu, then select the restart option from the menu.

    Restart your phone to exit Safe Mode - Android

    Your phone will now be rebooted and exit from the safe mode and boot into the normal mode.


STEP 4: Use Malwarebytes to remove viruses, adware, and other malware

In this fourth step, we will install Malwarebytes to scan your phone for malicious apps and files. Malwarebytes Free is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected phone, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes.

    You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link open a Google Play Store from where you can download Malwarebytes)
  2. Install Malwarebytes on your phone

    In the Google Play Store, tap “Install” to install Malwarebytes on your device.

    Tap Install to install Malwarebytes for Android

    When the installation process has finished, tap “Open” to begin using Malwarebytes for Android. You can also open Malwarebytes by tapping on its icon in your phone menu or home screen.
    Malwarebytes for Android - Open App

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup process

    When the Malwarebytes will open, you will see the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard which will guide you through a series of permissions and other setup options.
    This is the first of two screens which explain the difference between the Premium and Free version. Swipe this screen to continue.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 1
    Tap on “Got it” to proceed to the next step.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 2
    Malwarebytes for Android will now ask for a set of permissions that are required to scan your device and protect it from malware. Tap on “Give permission” to continue.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 3
    Tap on “Allow” to give permission to Malwarebytes to access the files on your phone.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 4

  4. Update database and run a scan with Malwarebytes

    You will now be prompted to update the Malwarebytes database and run a full system scan.

    Malwarebytes fix issue

    Click on “Update database” to update the Malwarebytes definitions to the latest version, then click on “Run full scan” to perform a system scan.

    Update database and run Malwarebytes scan on phone

  5. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will now start scanning your phone for adware and other malicious apps. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Malwarebytes scanning phone for malware

  6. Click on “Remove Selected”.

    When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malicious apps that Malwarebytes has found, tap on the “Remove Selected” button.
    Remove malicious apps from your phone

  7. Restart your phone.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious apps that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your device.


STEP 5: Remove redirects and pop-up ads from your browser

If your phone is still redirected to unwanted sites or you see pop-up ads, we will need to reset the web browser settings to their original defaults. This step should be performed only if the issues have not been solved by the previous steps.

Resetting the browser settings to their default it’s an easy task on Windows or Mac computers; however, when it comes to Android, this can’t be done directly because it’s not an option built-in into the browser settings. Restoring the browser settings on Android can be done by clearing the application data. This will remove all the cookies, cache, and other site settings that may have been saved. So let’s see how we can restore your browser to its factory settings.

ChromeFirefoxOperaBraveSamsung Internet BrowserUC BrowserMicrosoft Edge

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Google Chrome

To reset the Chrome browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Chrome.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Chrome app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Tap on Chrome

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Chrome’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Chrome’s data including accounts, bookmarks and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.
    Tap Ok to restore default settings

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Firefox browser

To reset the Firefox browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Firefox.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Firefox app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Firefox’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Firefox - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Firefox - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Firefox’s data including accounts, bookmarks and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Firefox - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Opera browser

To reset the Opera browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Opera.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Opera app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Opera’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Opera - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Opera - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Opera’s data including accounts, bookmarks and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Opera - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Brave browser

To reset the Brave browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Brave.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Brave app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Brave’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Brave - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Brave - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Brave’s data including accounts, bookmarks, and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Brave - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Samsung Internet Browser

To reset the Samsung Internet Browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Samsung Internet Browser.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Samsung Internet Browser app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Samsung Internet Browser’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Samsung Internet Browser - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Samsung Internet Browser - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Samsung Internet Browser’s data including accounts, bookmarks, and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Samsung Internet Browser - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Remove adware and pop-up ads from UC Browser

To reset the UC Browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on UC Browser.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the UC Browser app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the UC Browser’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    UC Browser - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    UC Browser - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all UC Browser’s data including accounts, bookmarks, and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    UC Browser - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Remove adware and pop-up ads from Microsoft Edge

To reset the Microsoft Edge browser to its default settings, follow the below steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Tap on the “Settings” app from your phone menu or home screen.
    Settings app in Android

  2. Tap on “Apps”.

    When the “Settings” menu opens, tap on “Apps” (or “App Manager”) to see all the installed applications on your phone.
    Tap on Apps

  3. Find and tap on Microsoft Edge.

    The “Apps” screen will be displayed with a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Scroll through the list until you find the Microsoft Edge app, then tap ot it to open the apps details.
    Search trough the Apps list for the malicious app

  4. Tap “Storage”.

    When the Microsoft Edge’s app info menu is displayed, tap on “Storage“.
    Microsoft Edge - Tap on Storage

  5. Tap “Manage Space”.

    Under the storage settings, you will get two options — Manage Space and Clear Cache. Tap on “Manage Space“.
    Microsoft Edge - Tap on Manage Storage

  6. Tap “Clear all data”.

    Tap “Clear all data” to delete all Microsoft Edge’s data including accounts, bookmarks, and your settings in order to reset the default settings.
    Microsoft Edge - Tap on Clear All Data

  7. Confirm by tapping “Ok”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, tap “Ok“.

Your computer should now be free of malicious apps. If your current antivirus allowed a malicious app on your phone, you may want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow one of the steps: