11 Warning Signs Your Android Smartphone Has Been Hacked

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Mobile malware is malicious software that is designed to wreak havoc on your phone, and it can be very dangerous. Once your phone has been infected with malware, attackers can inundate your phone with annoying pop up ads, steal your personal information, bank details, credit card information or harvest your login credentials to sell on the dark web. They can also track your location, subscribe your phone to expensive premium phone services, and even send spam email from your phone. Mobile malware works silently in the background trying to avoid detection.

What are the different forms of mobile malware?

Malware on your phone can come in several different forms, including the following:

  • Mobile adware: programmed to inundate you with unwanted pop-up ads. This is the most prevalent form of mobile malware, accounting for 72% of all mobile malware.
  • Banking Trojan: this type of malware is designed to steal bank details and financial information without the user’s knowledge. This malware targets Android devices, and can spy on over 150 apps, including those of banks and cryptocurrency exchanges as a way to harvest sensitive information.  
  • Mobile ransomware: this is a form of malware that steals sensitive data or locks a mobile device and then demands a ransom to release the data or unlock the device.
  • Rooting malware: unlocks the operating system of Android devices to take full control by obtaining root privileges.  
  • SMS malware: manipulates your phone by subscribing you to premium services. 
  • Spyware: Keeps tabs on your phone activity, records the information and sends it to a third party without your knowledge.

How does malware on your phone work?

Some mobile malware work by exploiting vulnerabilities in the phone’s operating system to give itself administrator privileges. By doing this, users don’t have to agree to permission requests in order for the malicious app to access sensitive information. This makes it easier to wreak havoc on the phone without being detected. 

Read on for warning signs that your Android smartphone has been compromised with malware:

  1. Battery drains abnormally. This is a symptom that many users may overlook because it might seem normal. But if you’ve recently downloaded an app(s) and your phone’s battery begins to drain faster than normal, you may have downloaded a fake app that has infected your phone with malware. The phone’s battery is draining fast because the malware is carrying on its activities in the background, making your device work overtime.
  2. Phone runs slow. Some lagging on your phone is normal. However, if your phone is relatively new and lags frequently, this could be caused by malware that is draining the phone’s resources, causing it to lag. To check out what is draining your phones’ resources, tap on Settings > Apps > Running. This will display all of the running apps along with the amount of RAM they are using. It will also show you how much RAM is available.
  3. Overheating. If you watch videos or movies on your phone, you can expect some overheating. However, if your phone overheats even though you don’t use it vigorously, this could be caused by a malicious app that is working in the background.
  4. Unexplained increment in phone bills. Some types of malware are programmed to send premium text messages from your phone, which will significantly increase your bills. According to Upstream, smartphone users lose millions of pounds every year due to high data charges from malicious ads. Android is the most notorious OS for ad fraud.
  5. Apps are crashing constantly. If many of the apps on your phone are crashing constantly and you have a lot of RAM and extra storage space on your phone, the first thing you should check is for the presence of malware.  
  6. Unknown apps. If you notice apps that you don’t remember installing on your phone, it is quite possible that malware is automatically installing malicious apps without your knowledge.
  7. Surge in data usage. Malicious apps need to send and receive information to their creators via the internet.If after checking data usage, you find a sudden surge from unknown apps, this is a good indication that you may have spyware on your phone.
  8. Overbearing popup ads. If you’re constantly inundated with display ads in the lock screen or overlaying other apps and sites, consider this a red flag that your phone is infected with adware.
  9. Strange emails sent to your contacts. If you are getting messages from your contacts about email messages that you did not send, this is another warning sign that your phone might have been infected with malware.
  10. Sudden password changes: If you are suddenly not able to get into your online accounts on your phone, this is another warning sign that your phone has been taken over by some form of malware.
  11. User interface changes. If the phone’s user interface suddenly changes without you doing anything to change it, this is a clear sign that you have a rogue app that is controlling your phone without your knowledge.

How can I get rid of mobile malware from my Android device?

Malware apps often mess with the administrative settings of the device to give themselves core admin privileges. This means it cannot simply be uninstalled from your phone in the normal way. If your phone is infected with malware, follow these steps to delete the offending app(s) from your device:

  1. Tap on Settings > Security > Device administrators
  2. Locate the malicious app
  3. Uncheck the box
  4. Choose deactivate
  5. Select OK
  6. Uninstall the app from apps or Application Manager

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