Android viruses are all too common these days, but what is the latest Android virus or malware to hit our phones and tablets, and what does it do? Here’s all you need to know about SpyDealer and other recent viruses, including symptoms, how to prevent a virus from attacking and what to do if your Android device is infected.
If you own an Android mobile or tablet, you’ll need to be careful when downloading apps and other files to your device. Viruses that infect Android phones can strike at any time if you let your wits down, possibly compromising your private information. Statistics show that millions of Android users have been affected by these viruses, so it pays to read up on the latest malware and keep yourself safe.
What is an Android virus?
Here we’ll discuss what an Android virus actually is and how they infect your phone or tablet.
What does an Android virus do?
A virus is basically a program that does bad things to a device, often without the knowledge of its owner. This can be something mischievous that simply screws up the device in some way, to stop it from functioning normally. Or it might bombard the user with adverts and other unwanted displays.
However, viruses are often designed by criminals to steal private information.
For instance, a virus may sit on an Android phone and register your inputs, to steal passwords and login information. This is then sent back to whoever wrote the virus, so they can use it to gain access to your accounts.
Alternatively a virus might trawl your mobile to find sensitive data such as credit card information, which again is transmitted without your knowledge. This can then be used to make fraudulent payments online.
A virus can even trick you into making online payments to the creators. That was the case with a rather bemusing phone porn virus, which flashed up a disapproving photo of the Queen to scare would-be grot surfers.
In other words, viruses can be truly devastating things indeed.
How do you get an Android virus?
Your Android phone, tablet or other device can become infected with a virus in a number of different ways. However, the most common cause is downloading an app which has the virus hidden inside.
These apps often pose as normal, legitimate software, such as games and document editors. However, when you install them on your Android device, the virus is awoken and carries out its creator’s bidding.
Note that any Android smartphone or tablet is prone to virus attacks, although you’re less likely to be infected if you keep your Android version up-to-date. Check out our full guide on updating Android for more info.
Why is Android less secure than Apple’s iOS?
Although iOS users aren’t completely safe from phone and tablet viruses, it’s the open nature of Android as a mobile operating system that renders it far more susceptible to such troubles.
Not only can users choose to download applications from outside the official channels, but Google Play just isn’t as well policed as Apple’s App Store for the presence of spurious applications and dangerous content.
Google has already implemented quite a few measures to clean out existing malware and prevent further dangerous content from appearing on Android’s app marketplace, with numerous security checks and the addition of ‘Bouncer’, which is designed to help filter out any sinister developers and their creations.
Android phones themselves are becoming better protected too. For instance, users now have to give permission to apps to access certain features on their mobile, such as the contacts list, messages and hardware. In this way, a virus is much less likely to sneak onto your handset and gain instant access to the bits it needs.
How to protect your Android phone from viruses
Now that you know about viruses and how they can affect Android, here’s how to check to see if your phone or tablet is infected with any signs of malware. We’ll also cover how to cure an infected Android device.
How do you detect if an Android virus is on your phone or tablet?
Often viruses do a great job of hiding themselves away, making them tricky to detect unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Occasionally a virus will have a specific ‘tell’, which you can find out about by reading up on it. However, many viruses can only be detected by an anti-virus program. These protective apps are updated regularly, so they can search for and locate any new bits of malware that might have infected your phone or tablet.
How do I safeguard my Android phone or remove a virus?
By now you’re probably wondering how to keep your Android device safe from troublesome malware. Alternatively, if you’ve discovered a virus has already infected your Android handset, you’ll want to know how to remove that offending piece of software.
In either case, head over to our complete guide on how to protect your phone from viruses. This will tell you everything you need to know about cleansing your Android devices and making sure that you don’t fall victim to these dastardly plots.
What is the latest Android virus?
GhostCtrl is the latest Android virus to make headlines. This nasty piece of mobile malware was discovered in July 2017 by Trend Micro.
The scary thing is, GhostCtrl is rather clever, with the ability to steal your data and allow other malware to sneak in undetected. This virus can also take over many of your smartphone’s features, just like SpyMaster (which was also discovered this month), to record your conversations and even snap your picture. Essentially, it’s an information gathering tool that can mine all sorts of private data about you.
GhostCtrl is picked up by downloading fake versions of legitimate apps. When these fake APK files are installed, the virus embeds itself in your phone and gets to work.
What other Android viruses should I be careful of?
Here’s some of the latest Android viruses that are big enough to make the news in 2017.
Although this Android virus was only first found in July 2017, the scary thing is that SpyMaster has been around for ages. Estimates indicate that the first Android devices probably picked up the virus way back in October 2015 – so this particular piece of malware has been stealing information for close to two years already.
Once a phone is infected, SpyMaster is able to steal information from more than 40 different Android apps, including WhatsApp and Facebook. It’s even smart enough to access your camera to record video and take snaps. The virus can work out your location via GPS and delve into your personal messages, bypassing any encryption in the process. All of this data is then sent back to the creators when the Android device is online.
It’s a stubborn sod too. SpyMaster can clone itself on an infected phone, so attempts to uninstall the software are unsuccessful.
This virus runs on any version of Android, although more recent versions stunt its effectiveness with their improved permissions features. Phones running Android 2.2 to Android 4.4 are the most seriously impacted. Take a look at our complete Android guide to check which version of Android your smartphone or tablet is running.
Thankfully SpyMaster doesn’t appear to have infiltrated the Google Play store. It’s only available via third-party app stores, so be safe and keep clear.