Most Common Android Viruses: Your Ultimate Guide

Most Common Android Viruses: Your Ultimate Guide

Android tablets and phones can in some instances behave erratically from time to time, particularly when the amount of junk installed piles up. However, in some instances, bad behavior in an Android device can be due to a virus or other malware; but often, it may be difficult to tell what’s to blame. Many times it won’t be a virus that causes the device to act the way it does. Android viruses are typically rare. However, you might have a few of them if you only download some dodgy apps.

Android viruses can compromise the safety of your valuable data. When you hear on the news that mobile threats are on the rise, it may be easy for you to lose sight of the context behind the numbers and worry about the likelihood of your phone being exposed to Android virus that will perhaps steal your personal information. So what makes an Android virus a threat to your Android device security? This article highlights what the Android virus is, whether viruses are dangerous, and common types of Android viruses.

What Is An Android Virus?

There’s No Such Thing

From a historical perspective, the word “virus” has been common in the PC world for years. A virus is thought to be an illegitimate/malicious program that can replicate itself by attaching itself to another legitimate program. Viruses are mostly used by hackers to steal personal information, which popularized the term to refer to all types of malicious software or malware on computers. However, in the smartphone world, there is no malicious program that can replicate itself like the PC virus.

So technically, there is no such a thing as an Android virus. Even so, there are numerous types of Android malware that can affect the operability of your Android device. While many people think that any malicious software is called a virus, this is technically inaccurate.

lady using android smartphone

image via Pexels

Android Malware

Malware is a malicious software that is specifically designed for secretly controlling a device or stealing money and vital personal information from the device’s owner. This means that Android malware can be used in stealing passwords and account numbers from mobile handsets and put false charges on the bank accounts of the Android user, and even track a user’s activity and location without their knowledge. So while Android viruses don’t exist, Android malware does exist. However, the two, “virus” and “malware,” are typically used synonymously in both the PC and the smartphone worlds.

How Can You Get an Android Virus on Your Phone?

Experts have established that the user behavior and geography influence the risk of encountering an Android virus. Therefore, you need to only download Android applications from trusted sources, and more specifically, on Google’s Play Store, which is accessible from any Android device. While you don’t technically need a security application on your Android device, we recommend that you download and install one, as it wards off potential Android viruses or informs you when opening files containing such viruses.

Fraudsters typically disguise malware as innocent-looking Android applications on websites and other inauthentic app stores. If you are thinking that it is a good idea to download a new and supposedly free Android application, such as Angry Birds, that you find randomly on a Chinese app store, it is probably not. 

It could very well be an Android virus in disguise. Once you have installed it, the application may appear to work just fine, but it is busy performing other malicious tasks secretly. Some of these apps may start out clean but can be granted malicious capabilities after a software update. This is why you need to ensure that you only download your Android apps from the Play Store.

Thorough screening of the app when downloading may not always minimize the risk of downloading a virus. This is because sneaky drive-by-download sites can download potentially malicious application files onto a phone without a user’s involvement. Although safe browsing in Lookout Premium for Android typically blocks web-based threats, you should be wary of installing random downloads from your download manager that you don’t expect to see there.

a skull as a virus representation

image via Pixabay

Are Android Viruses Dangerous?

Android viruses are very dangerous because they will steal personal information. These are typically passwords, bank data, and credit card information, as hackers and fraudsters can use these to target your bank account and even steal your hard-earned cash. This is the most dangerous aspect of the viruses. The Android virus can also take over your phone, which could lead to it overheating until it no longer functions as it should.

The virus secretly controls your Android handset and can even be used as an avenue to steal money from the handset, since most people use mobile money banking. They can be put false charges on the user’s bank account and then track the activities and location of the user without their knowledge.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Android Device

It is simple to minimize the risk of the android virus. The best way of protecting yourself is downloading a mobile security application like Lookout so that you can catch Android viruses and to be certain that all the applications that you download are authentic. Lookout scours your Android device for any existing malware and also examines every new application you download to ensure that it is safe. 

However, before you even install Lookout, you should also keep up the practice of only downloading apps from sites you trust. In addition, you should check ratings and read reviews to ensure that a specific application is widely used and respected.

4 Most Common Android Virus

There are 4 types of Android Viruses: ransomware, universal cross-site scripting (UXSS) attack, Android installer hijacking, and malware hidden in downloaded apps. There are also scam viruses that are used to scare Android users and so trick them into installing the very viruses they fear in the first place.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malware that takes control of your Android device until you pay a cybercriminal a certain amount of money they request upfront prior to deactivating it. The payment typically happens through bitcoin or any other untraceable form of currency transfer. The hacker holds down the phone and keeps it hostage until the fee is paid.

Malware Hidden in Downloadable Apps

Some apps have hidden malware that infect the Android device once downloaded and installed. Even games like solitaire and history apps can have the malware downloaded onto the user’s Android device. The problem with such apps is that they might seem like they are actually functioning as they should for weeks and even months prior to downloading a virus in what could seem like a routine update. This means that you will probably stop looking at these appls as a source of the virus.

Universal Cross-Site Scripting (UXSS) Attack

This attack is common for those using older Android models. It is initiated when a cybercriminal writes a code using JavaScript. If you accidentally click on a malicious link, you will fall prey to the malware. Then the hacker can automatically download the app onto your phone. The best way to avoid such attacks is to use more recent Android models.

Android Installer Hijacking

About 50% of Android devices are susceptible to this virus. The application comes into play if you try downloading a valid application, but behind the scenes a hijacker installs a malicious application in place of the real one. As you review the permissions for the application you want to install, the hijacking virus sets up an innocently looking application that will later be used by the hacker to install the malware.

4 Virus

This is a fake alert that states that the computer system of the user is heavily damaged. It is a deceptive message that can appear on an Android smartphone and other devices such as tablets and computers. This Android virus displays questionable notifications, facilitated by adware installed on an Android device. The virus typically enters the device without permission and could display intrusive ads on Google Chrome or any other browser, and can potentially redirect users to scam websites.

This is basically a scam that is used to scare users and make them download useless software. It has various versions. It may report that your handset is heavily damaged by the 4 virus, the handset is heavily damaged, or that it is infected with a virus. You need to uninstall any unauthorized program to eliminate it, and don’t click on pop-ups or download any freeware.

warning cyber attack mobile graphic illustration

image via Pixabay

Conclusion

Android viruses are malicious software designed for secretly controlling a device and stealing personal information, passwords and account numbers from Android handsets. Fraudsters often disguise malware as innocent-looking Android applications on websites and other inauthentic app stores. 

To avoid the viruses, ensure that you have a security application installed to scan your handset and ensure that the apps you download are not malicious. 

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