How to Get Rid of Viruses on Your Phone in 2024

If you believe your phone might be infected with some kind of malware, worry not; there are a few ways to get rid of viruses on your phone. In this guide, we’ll show you the most common symptoms suggesting you might have a virus on your phone and how to remove it manually and with a trustworthy antivirus program.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about phone viruses, the potential damage they pose, and a few simple steps you can take to remove them.

Can You Get a Virus on Your Phone?

While mobile phones are not as susceptible to viruses as computers, they’re still far from immune to all types of malware and other cyber threats.

If we’re talking strictly in technical terms, you can’t get a virus as self-replicating malicious software on a mobile device. However, phones are still vulnerable to malware, ransomware, spyware, and keyloggers. Without an antivirus, cybercriminals may access your messages, files stored on your device, and even your credit card information if you make online purchases using your phone.

A common and potentially costly misconception is that iPhones can’t get mobile viruses. While Apple’s phone security is robust and iPhones are generally better protected than their Android counterparts, you can still get malware and other unwanted software on your iOS device. The risk significantly increases if you “jailbreak” the phone, since removing the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer facilitates the installation of unauthorized apps.

How to Get Rid of Viruses on Your Phone

There are two ways to get rid of a virus on your phone – by attempting to remove it manually or using antivirus software.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to check if your phone has a virus, as well as give you the exact steps you need to follow when removing a virus from iOS and Android devices.

If that doesn’t work, your best option is to install an antivirus software like TotalAV, run a virus scan, and remove the unwanted software that’s causing issues.

How to Get Viruses Off iPhone

The bulk of the iPhone malware aims to gain access to your personal information by manipulating your browser in some way. If you want to attempt to fix the issue yourself before installing antivirus software, here’s how to get rid of a virus on an iPhone manually:

  1. Step 1: Clear All Browsing Data

    Open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Safari. There, tap Clear History and Website Data. If you’re a different browser, do the same until you’ve cleared all browsing data from your iPhone.
    Step 1: Clear All Browsing Data
  2. Step 2: Restart Your iPhone

    Some malicious programs are non-persistent, meaning they will no longer affect your iPhone after a reboot. Press and hold the power button to turn off your iPhone until the Apple logo appears. Wait a few seconds for the phone to reboot and check to see if the problem persists.
  3. Step 3: Update Your Operating System

    To maximize device protection against malware and viruses, always ensure you’re using the latest version of iOS. To do so, navigate to Settings and, under General, tap on Software Updates. Update your device if a new version is available.
  4. Step 4: Update Your Apple ID Credentials

    Some malicious software can give cybercriminals access to your accounts. We strongly recommend updating your Apple ID password to prevent them from abusing your data. Simply navigate to Settings and, under your name, tap on Password & Security and change your password.
    Step 4: Update Your Apple ID Credentials
  5. Step 5: Restore Your iPhone from a Backup

    If a virus alters the original settings on your iOS device, you can revert to a previous backup. Under General Settings, tap on Reset and choose Erase All Content and Settings. Follow the steps on your screen to restore the previous iPhone settings.
    Step 5: Restore Your iPhone from a Backup
  6. Step 6: Reset Your Phone to Factory Settings

    Alternatively, you can completely reset your iPhone to its factory settings. This will remove all data on your device, but it will also remove any malware, ransomware, spyware, or any other unwanted apps.

How to Remove a Virus From Android Devices

The process for removing viruses from Android devices is somewhat different, but it’s equally as simple. Follow the steps below to manually remove an Android phone virus:

  1. Step 1: Clear Your Browser Cache

    If you’re worried you might’ve accidentally downloaded a malicious file, clear your browser cache and delete all recent downloads. Navigate to Settings, and under Apps, select Chrome and clear the cache and storage.
    Step 1: Clear Your Browser Cache
  2. Step 2: Remove Unwanted and Unrecognized Apps

    To remove unwanted apps from your Android phone, navigate to Settings and tap Apps. There, sift through the list of apps on your device and delete the ones you do not recognize or cannot remember installing.
  3. Step 3: Enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

    To prevent hackers from getting access to your Google account, enable two-factor authentication. This will make accessing your account much harder since a secondary confirmation will be needed when logging in. To enable 2FA, go to your Settings app, search up Google, and find 2-Step Verification.
    Step 3: Enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
  4. Step 4: Fully Wipe Your Phone

    If your phone was infected, you can remove the virus by resetting your device to factory settings. This will undo any changes the malware has made; however, all files on your device will be deleted. While you can back up said files, we advise doing so only if you have an antivirus program on your PC that can scan all the files and remove viruses or malware. Otherwise, you’ll pass the virus to the other device. To wipe the phone, go to Settings > System > Reset Options, and choose Erase All Data.

Why Use an Antivirus?

Manually removing malicious software from your phone doesn’t always work unless you resort to a full factory reset. Therefore, an antivirus is a much better option – it’s faster, easier, and more effective. In minutes, it can scan, detect, and remove harmful apps and code from your phone.

That said, antiviruses have another huge benefit – they provide real-time protection. Rather than just eliminating the existing problem, an antivirus prevents new malware from infecting your device. It also protects you against phishing attempts, network attacks, and keyloggers, and can even alert you if your personal information has been compromised due to a data breach.

We’ve been in the tech field for over 13 years, during which we’ve tested, reviewed, and compared popular iPhone and Android antivirus solutions. That’s why we can confidently recommend TotalAV as the best option, which offers superb real-time protection against cyber threats, automatically blocks all malicious websites, secures your Wi-Fi networks, and allows you to browse the web anonymously.

EDITOR’s CHOICE

TotalAV – Outstanding Antivirus Software for Complete Protection, Including Password Manager and VPN

  • Minimal system impact
  • Unlimited VPN bandwidth
  • Excellent phishing protection

How to Check if Your Phone Has a Virus

While there are some telltale signs that your phone might be infected, some malware, especially keyloggers and spyware, is quite subtle and will not affect your phone’s performance.

The best way to make sure your phone has a virus is to download antivirus software and run a scan.

How to Check for Viruses on Android

  1. Step 1: Download a Trusted Antivirus

    Download TotalAV or an alternatively reliable antivirus in your Google Play Store. Once installed, log in, and turn on the software.
    Step 1: Download a Trusted Antivirus
  2. Step 2: Run Antivirus Scan

    Run a system scan with TotalAV Mobile Security. Simply tap on Security Scan and choose whether you’d like to perform a quick scan or a full scan. We recommend the latter, especially if you’re worried your device might be infected with malware. This will take a few minutes.
    Step 2: Run Antivirus Scan

How to Check iPhone for Viruses

The process is fairly similar on iOS as well. Here are the exact steps:

  1. Step 1: Get the Antivirus App in the App Stores

    Open the app store and type in TotalAV. Download the free antivirus app and install it on your phone.
    Step 1: Get the Antivirus App in the App Stores
  2. Step 2: Run Antivirus Scan

    From the left-hand side menu, tap on System Security and choose whether you want to run a Quick Scan or a System Scan. Once again, we recommend doing a full system scan, as it will check every single file on your device and remove any and all threats.
    Step 2: Run Antivirus Scan

A Quick Overview of Common Phone Viruses

There are many different kinds of malware that can infect your phone. Depending on the type, different software can affect your device’s performance and battery life, spam you with ads, get root access to your phone’s system, intercept your messages and emails, or even gain access to your accounts and payment information.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common types of phone viruses:

  • Trojans – This malicious software is usually attached to an app, program, or download. They “hide” inside the app’s code and activate once it is installed, hence the name. Trojans disrupt your device’s system and get access to your files, logins, and other info, opening the backdoor for hackers.
  • Adware – Adware is also typically hidden within other applications and, once active, bombards you with advertisements and unfamiliar links. While adware doesn’t directly do any real harm to the device, clicking on an ad might lead to additional viruses infecting your phone.
  • Spyware – Spyware is subtle but incredibly dangerous since it works in the background to feed cybercriminals your personal information. They can get access to your messages, browsing history, location, emails, photos, and even banking information. Leaving spyware unchecked can even lead to potential identity theft.
  • Mobile bots – These types of viruses hijack your phone and allow the hacker to issue commands to the device remotely. This effectively prevents you from using the phone and enables them to misuse it for a wide range of illicit activities.
  • Worms – Worms are often spread via SMS or MMS messages and aim to multiply and spread to other devices. They often contain harmful links or instructions.

How Do Phones Get Viruses?

The most common way to get your phone infected with malware is by downloading infected files from shady websites and clicking dubious links or ads.

That said, cybercriminals are getting more and more subtle, so even if you’re extra careful regarding what websites you’re visiting and what you’re clicking on, a malicious program or app can still sneak its way onto your phone.

Here’s a breakdown of the typical ways in which you can “catch” a phone virus:

  • Downloading malicious apps or files – You should only download apps from the Play Store, App Store, or the official website of the vendor. Never download third-party apps from websites you don’t trust, and never turn off the default security scans on your phone. The same goes for files like PDFs, Google Spreadsheets, or any other Microsoft Office documents.
  • Clicking on shady links or ads – Unless you’re on a reputable website, never click an ad, no matter how enticing the offer might be. Most banner and pop-up ads on shady websites are either scams or contain viruses.
  • Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks – If you’re not using a VPN or a phone antivirus, we strongly recommend against connecting to open, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Hackers can utilize network vulnerabilities to get access to your device and your personal data.
  • Opening suspicious emails or SMS – Never open an email or an SMS from a source you don’t recognize or trust. If you accidentally do, never click a link in an email or an SMS.

How to Know if Your Phone Has a Virus – Common Signs

If your phone is infected with a virus, you’ll likely notice some strange behavior or sudden performance issues. Here are the most common telltale signs that your phone has a virus:

  • Short battery life – If your battery suddenly drains unusually fast, even when not actively used, it might be because the phone is utilizing the energy to meet the requirements of the virus.
  • The phone overheats – Phones tend to overheat when their resources are overutilized. This can happen if the virus is causing it to run numerous programs in the background.
  • Constant pop-up ads – If random pop-up ads appear on your home screen while browsing or when your phone is locked, your device is definitely infected with adware. A sudden increase in in-app ads is also a clear sign of that.
  • A surge in data usage – Much like overheating, an unusually large increase in data usage is also a sign that malicious software is using your device’s data without your knowledge and consent.
  • New and strange apps on your phone – Phones don’t automatically install apps, so if you find new, strange apps that you’re sure you haven’t installed yourself, it’s a strong indication that your device is infected with some form of malware.
  • Unauthorized charges on your credit card – If your account sees frequent unauthorized charges, it might be because hackers got their hands on your payment information.
  • The phone sends messages on its own – Weird, suspicious messages with dubious links that are automatically sent to your contact list are a clear indicator that your device has been compromised.

While all of these indicate signs of malware on your phone, the best way to know for sure whether or not your device is infected is to download an antivirus and scan it.

Further Steps to Protect Your Phone From Viruses

There are hundreds of thousands of malicious programs out there, so protecting your devices is crucial. Here are some actions you can take to improve your protection against iPhone and Android viruses:

  • Regular updates – It’s best to keep auto-updates on, but you can also manually update your phone’s operating system and the apps you’re using. Don’t ignore these updates, as newer versions of the system and the apps are less vulnerable to malware.
  • Only download apps from trusted sources – Never download files, executables, apps, or programs from obscure third-party app stores. Stick with reliable app stores, like the Play Store or App Store.
  • Avoid suspicious links and attachments – If you receive an email or an SMS from someone you don’t know, delete it, especially if it includes links or attachments you can download. In most cases, these are either viruses or scams, so don’t fall for it.
  • Steer clear of ads on websites you don’t trust – If you ever see an ad with an offer that’s too good to be true, ignore it. These clickbait ads often contain viruses and aim to trick you by promising incredible deals or time-limited offers.
  • Only use secure Wi-Fi networks and a VPN – Don’t connect to open Wi-Fi networks without implementing additional security features. Use password-protected networks and install one of the best VPN apps to protect your data and privacy.
  • Enable 2FA – Enable two-factor authentication in your Google account settings and wherever else possible to ensure hackers can’t log into your accounts even if they get a hold of your credentials.
  • Update your passwords – Use a different password for each of your accounts, and update them if you believe your phone might be infected.

Antivirus Guides We Recommend Reading Next

If you’re serious about protecting your device, data, and privacy, an antivirus software is a must. Here’s a list of our top antivirus guides, so you can learn more about them:

Conclusion

Phone viruses are a lot more common than people think. Even if you’re extremely careful online, you can still fall victim. Cybercriminals use a variety of sneaky methods to trick you into downloading malicious software or clicking on suspicious links.

Since most of us use phones for a variety of services and shopping online, securing the device is of the highest importance.

If you’re worried your device might be infected, try to manually remove the malware. We also strongly recommend installing antivirus on your phone and running a full device scan. This is the best way to detect and remove phone viruses, as well as keep your device fully protected from any future threats.

FAQs

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Aleksandar Stevanovic
Software Reviews Expert

Aleksandar Stevanovic spent 10 years honing his craft as a freelance content writer. He has a degree in Economics, and extensive experience in software, crypto, and cybersecurity industries. He covers a multitude of topics, writing factual and informative articles, helping individuals better understand the intricacies of the online world. Over the last two years, his research focus shifted more towards tech and software content, as evidenced by his publications on CEX.IO, Business2Community, and Techopedia. He believes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them closer to like-minded individuals. His work is as detail-oriented as it is creative, and is designed to…