Smartphones are the perfect example of incredible technology that has changed our lives for the better. We can do so many things with these handy gadgets that you probably never dreamed of a couple decades ago. Of course, to get the most out of your Android device, you'll need to take advantage of some of the millions of available apps.
To be safe, we're constantly warning you to not download apps from third-party stores. With stringent safety protocols, it's more secure to get apps from the Google Play Store.
Unfortunately, that isn't 100 percent true anymore. Security researchers recently discovered 144 Android apps on Google Play that contain a form of Trojan malware.
The malware threat is being dubbed "Grabos." It was originally found in an app called "Aristotle Music audio player 2017," which has been downloaded more than 5 million times. (Note: A list of impacted apps is included near the bottom of this article.)
If your gadget is infected with this malware, you will see fake notifications trying to trick you into downloading and installing other apps. It's believed to be an elaborate pay-per-app-install scheme. Grabos can also track a user's location and constantly send annoying pop-up ads to your gadget.
Signs that your Android gadget is infected with malware
Surge in data usage
One of the first things to check is your monthly data usage. This is generally located on your statement from your cellphone service provider or when you view your mobile account details online. Compare the amount of data used to data usage from the prior months and if you notice sudden spikes in your data usage even though you haven't really changed your usage patterns, then chances are you are infected.
Adware infected phones usually perform unsolicited clicks in the background to generate profit for cybercriminals. All of these stealthy tactics use up bandwidth and the unauthorized data they consume should be fairly easy to spot.
One other sure sign that your Android gadget is infected is by incurring unusual charges on your cellphone bill under the "SMS" category. This happens when your gadget is infected with malware that sends text messages to premium-rate numbers and charges you.
If you're starting to get annoying pop-up ads and notifications, unwanted reminders and nagging "system" warnings that just won't go away, then your Android phone may have been compromised. Malware can also add bookmarks that you don't want, website shortcuts to your home screen that you didn't create and spammy messages that entice you to click through.
Apart from slowing down your phone and eating away at your data, these intrusive notifications can also install more malware on your phone.
Keep an eye out for apps that you don't remember installing. Trojan malware, especially the adware, are known for automatically downloading further malicious apps without your knowledge. Also, cybercriminals try to mimic and clone legitimate apps to trick users into installing them but switch them out with malware via automatic app updates.
As you can imagine, all this unauthorized background activity not only takes a toll on your data usage, it can impact your battery life, as well. These battery-sucking viruses may be disguised in third-party apps and unreliable downloads, and once you install the program onto your Android, you'll start to see the drain almost instantly.
Steps you can take to remove an Android virus
If you feel that your Android phone is not operating as it should and you suspect that it may be infected with malware, here are tips that can help you clean up its act.
Remove questionable apps
To review and remove questionable apps, go to Settings >> then Apps or Application Manager. Look through the list and keep an eye out for anything that's odd or unfamiliar. Tap the questionable app you want to get rid of and this will open up the App Info screen.
First, remove the app's data cache by hitting "Clear Cache." Next, delete the app's data by tapping "Clear Data." Once these steps are done, click on the "Uninstall" button to remove the app.
Some malicious apps may have administrator access and these are trickier to remove but there are ways.
First, enter your Android phone's Safe Mode. In most Android gadgets, this requires holding the power button until the "Power Off" or "Power Option" menu appears. Simply tap and hold on this menu until the option to reboot in Safe Mode appears, then hit OK.
Once your phone is in Safe Mode, go back to Apps or Application Manager and uninstall any stubborn apps that can't be removed otherwise. Some malicious apps also have managed to install themselves with administrator status so you will need to clear these permissions too.
Go to Settings >> Security >> Device administrators then find the app that you cannot uninstall normally, uncheck the box, choose "Deactivate" on the next screen >> select OK then return to Apps or Application Manager to uninstall.
After uninstalling your questionable apps, restart your Android phone. You should be all good now.
Here is the list of apps found in the Google Play Store that contain Grabos malware (Source: McAfee)