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While most people associate software viruses with computers, malicious software (malware) is targeting phones now more than ever before. After all, many of us use our smartphones more than our computers. We are also using our phones for tasks such as banking, accessing our social media and storing important information – the kind of things hackers would love to access.
So how do you check whether your phone is infected with malware? Here are a few ways to scan your device and make sure it’s safe.
Method 1: Checking for malware with built-in tools
Many smartphones with recent versions of Android have built-in tools for checking whether a device has any malware installed.
This is the easiest way to see whether your phone is compromised. To check whether your phone has this type of built-in tool, access your phone manager app or search for your device security menu in your phone’s settings. Usually, you will see the option to scan your phone for malware with these tools. But if your phone doesn’t seem to have this tool, don’t worry – there are other ways you can scan your device.
Method 2: Using the Google Play Protect scan
The Google Play Store app, which is present on every Android phone, gives you access to a malware scanning tool.
To launch a malware scan, open Google Play and go to the dropdown menu on the top left of your screen. You will see a tab called ‘Play Protect’. Selecting this tab will open a window where you can scan your phone. If you haven’t scanned your phone recently, click the refresh button and Play Protect will scan again. If the status says ‘Looks good’, it means that Play Protect hasn’t detected any dodgy apps or malware on your phone.
Method 3: Using an anti-malware app
There are also dedicated anti-malware apps that you can install on your device if you don’t have built-in tools available. Try Lookout, Kaspersky Mobile and AVG AntiVirus. You will be able to perform a device scan for any malware with these. Sometimes just opening the app will launch a scan; other times you will need to manually select a scan button.
What to do if you find malware
If your phone detects malicious software, you need to immediately get rid of the app or files responsible. Often, tools will isolate the infected app and uninstall it for you. Otherwise, launch your phone in Safe Mode (accessing this mode is done differently depending on your device) and uninstall the problem app. Relaunch your phone in normal mode and perform a scan again to check whether the malware has been removed.