The Most Dangerous Android Viruses and How to Defend Yourself

Malware is one of the most dangerous threats to Android devices, in fact it is estimated that it has already affected 2 billion devices worldwide. To protect yourself, you need to install a great paid antivirus, download only apps from the official stores and take immediate action if your device is affected.

Here's a detailed guide to all the most popular malware on Android, including apps not to download and some useful tips to protect your Android smartphone, tablet or smartwatch.

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Malware: what it is and how it works

Malware is the most common virus, increasingly used by hackers to get inside mobile and fixed devices, such as PCs, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and Smart TVs. The intentions can be different, such as stealing some important data, such as payment card data, taking over your digital identity to perform illegal actions, spying on a user, or using your services without paying anything.

A malware is a malicious software, a program that is loaded into your operating system, putting the security of your Android device at risk.

How to tell if your phone has a virus

To check for malware, you can check for certain anomalies, behaviors that are out of the norm and change the performance of your phone. For example, the device may stop working properly, offer slow browsing, you may suddenly receive an excessive amount of advertisements, the operating system may close for no reason, the temperature may rise even when no programs are open, or some screen details may appear different.

How malware can get into your device

Every time you go online, there is a real risk of being attacked by a virus, just by opening an email, downloading an infected app, visiting a web page with malware, or connecting to a device previously affected by a virus. Often malicious apps are hiding inside perfectly normal apps with millions of downloads and deemed risk-free, but you can limit this by downloading apps only from the official stores, though unfortunately sometimes this is not enough.

What are the most popular malware on Android

Despite the enormous effort of Google and app developers, there are different types of malware in Android apps, some more or less dangerous than others, but all potentially risky.

The most common types include adware, which displays illegal advertisements, spyware, which allows hackers to spy on us, worms, which destroy files by passing them from one device to another, viruses, which directly affect the operating system's code, and trojans, which are among the most dangerous types because they can steal sensitive information such as bank and payment card details.

Also on the rise in recent years are cryptomining, in which the computing capabilities of your device are exploited to mine cryptocurrencies, causing a drop in performance of the device and its almost complete inactivity. The same goes for ransomware, with which criminals lock your smartphone and demand a ransom, keyloggers, which allow those who control them to know exactly what keys the owner is typing, and exploits, with which you can literally take control of any infected device.

Why mobile devices are affected by malware

Unfortunately Android smartphones, tablets and smartwatches are among the favorite targets of malicious attackers, who use malware to perform illegal actions, affecting millions of devices every year in Italy alone. Mobile devices are often an easy prey, due to the absence of effective antivirus, a simplistic management of permissions and a lack of attention to the apps and files that are downloaded daily.

It is really easy for a cybercriminal to infect a smartphone, just by sending an email, hiding a virus in an app, in a text message, in a file to share, or exploiting the weaknesses of Bluetooth connections, passing quickly from one device to another. This is a fast-growing phenomenon, in fact it is expected that in 2019 more than 2.5 billion smartphones, tablets and smartwatches will be affected, many of them without the knowledge of the legitimate owner.

Android viruses: the apps to delete

Companies working in the field of cybersecurity, many of which specialize precisely on Android devices, perform daily tests and analysis of the applications available online.

In 2019, several extremely dangerous apps have been identified, which, if they were installed on your device, should be deleted immediately, as they contain adware, malware that fills your phone with advertisements.

For example, among them there are 9 malicious apps to use your smartphone as a remote control, to connect it to the TV and manage settings, including Remote Control, Universal TV remote controller, Remote control for TV and home electronics and other variants of the same name, such as TV remote controlling, Remote for air conditioner, Remote control for the car, Air conditioner remote control, Remote for television for free and TV remote controller.

Android viruses attacking the microphone

Some malware is attacking the microphone of Android devices, allowing attackers to spy on private conversations, taking advantage of the increase in voicemails, mainly sent via WhatsApp. One of the latest malware detected was Skygofree, which was able to record calls, take pictures and intercept text messages. Discovered by computer researchers at Kaspersky Lab, the malware has been active since 2014, so you have to be especially careful against this discreet spy.

Android viruses that drain the battery

Some malware has a specific goal, to target and damage the batteries of Android devices, completely draining all the remaining charge. Among the most notorious ones is Loapi, an Android malware also detected by Kaspersky Lab. This intruder has some aspects of adware and cryptomining viruses inside, overheating the battery to such an extent that it has managed in some cases to deform it and even explode it.

Similar is one of its colleagues, a malware called in the industry DrainerBot, which once inside consumes all the GB of the phone and drains the battery. Discovered by Oracle's Data Cloud research group, this malware has affected hundreds of Android apps, of which at least 5 malicious apps have been detected, stealing up to 10 GB of internet traffic per device. Among the apps used by the battery malware are Snake Attack, Math Solver and Tak a Trip.

Android viruses that attack internal memory

In 2012, AndroRAT, an Android virus that targets the internal memory of devices, attacking mostly older and vulnerable devices, was identified. Repeatedly making a comeback, with new incidents of contagion every year, AndroRAT is a trojan-type malware, capable of infiltrating smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, taking total control of the device. Trojans are among the most complex viruses to get rid of, so if you own a smartphone with an outdated Android version, you should install a good antivirus right away.

Viruses for Android devices: the most dangerous malware

The work of computer security specialists is relentless, that's why today we know some of the most dangerous malware for Android, however digital criminals develop new viruses every day, so it is important to keep up to date and properly protect your mobile device. Among the most famous malware of recent times is the Herorat virus, transmitted from one device to another through Telegram messages, capable of spying on the smartphone and capturing files.

Another dangerous malware is the Xavier virus, guilty of infecting more than 75 Android apps in 2017, many of them present on Google Play Store but immediately removed. It is an adware, a malicious software that fills the phone with misleading and illegal advertisements, allowing the hacker to steal information and control the phone remotely. Equally malicious is Lotoor, which replicates real copies of apps, but once inside the smartphone takes control of it, as if it were the administrator of the device.

Appeared in 2017 but still circulating is ToastAmigo, an Android malware that exploits pup-up notifications, which appear for example when sending emails or messages with attached files, a particularly invasive and annoying adware. The name of this malware describes it well, Invisible Man, discovered in 2017 and specialized in stealing bank data. A real threat then, considered a variant of the dangerous Svpeng, whose task is to steal the most important information through pishing operations.

First spotted back in 2016, but always lurking in its thousands of variants, the Switcher trojan is by many accounts one of the most feared and difficult to remove Android malware. The cause is the direct attack on the DNS system of the device, responsible for the communication of IP addresses, able to take the unfortunate person to websites controlled by the cyber-criminal. In this way, bank data and personal information are stolen and all connected phones can be infected.

How to protect yourself from malware and viruses on Android

The best cure is prevention, there is no doubt about that, in fact it is essential to protect your Android device from malware, viruses and other malicious software. To do so, it is necessary to install an excellent antivirus on the device, keeping it always updated and performing periodic scans. Among the best antivirus against malware for Android are Malwarebytes, Avast Mobile Security, Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab Internet Security, G Data Internet Security, Nortono Mobile Security, Tencent WeSecure and Sophos Mobile Security.

Of course, you need to opt for a paid version, although some companies also offer free antivirus, as the level of protection of free versions is almost always completely inefficient. It is also important to take preventive actions, such as not downloading apps of dubious origin or from unofficial stores, not clicking on unverified links, avoiding touching images and advertisements, always scanning files before downloading them and paying attention to messages and files from social networks, especially those sent by your contacts.

How to get rid of malware from Android

If your Android device is affected by malware, or any other malicious software, you should immediately scan it with an antivirus program or, in case it is not present, download a high-quality program right away. Often, this can be remedied by eliminating the malware with the help of the antivirus, but it is advisable to change all security passwords, both those of your Google account and, most importantly, the credentials for accessing banking and payment services.

Or you can turn off your smartphone, restart it in safe mode, try to locate the infected application, remove it manually and delete its folders. Sometimes the delayed intervention of the antivirus fails to drive away the malware, so it becomes necessary to format the Android device. That is why it is important to regularly make a backup of your personal data, saving on cloud computing platforms such as Google Drive, DropBox or Microsoft OneDrive.