If your phone is acting funny, use these five tips to check for malware, scam apps, and other problems with your device. Plus, we’ll explain how to keep you safe moving forward.
1. Poor Battery Life or Extreme Battery Usage
Even if you don’t see clear signs of suspicious activity, something malicious can still be going on behind the scenes. One of the best ways to see if your phone has been hacked is to check your battery usage.
If your phone is hot for no reason, even when it’s not charging, something could be running in the background while the screen is off. Some of the most sophisticated malware can still leave traces on your phone or tablet, so start by checking the battery usage menu.
Open Settings > Battery > Battery Usage and look for an unknown app or anything unusual.
This doesn’t happen as often since Google has a comprehensive Google Play Protect system built into Android, but we still recommend checking. As shown above, you see some random unknown shady app named “10214” killing 40% of the battery. “Miscellaneous” is worse, draining about 70% of your juice. That’s not good!
In this scenario, we probably have a keylogger or virus hiding its name to prevent being found. At the same time, don’t only look for weird app names because we’ve seen totally normal apps we didn’t install do similar things. Look for anything unusually exhausting.
We all use our phones differently, but if you notice extremely severe battery drain, that’s a concern. You can reboot your phone, force close the suspect software, or if possible, completely uninstall the app.
2. Check for Random Unwanted App Installs
Another tell-tale sign of malware is if you see random apps installed on your phone. These are apps you didn’t install yourself.
Nasty apps or sites can install a program on your phone and send sensitive information back to a third party.
Don’t pass this off: it likely means your device has been hacked. Sometimes, it won’t use a ton of battery life, but it can still cause harm and drain your data. If you find one, here’s how to get rid of it.
Navigate to Settings > Apps > App Manager and scroll through the list of apps on your phone. Sometimes you might have to tap the All Apps dropdown arrow. Find anything you don’t want, tap it, and select Uninstall.
Obviously, you should only uninstall things that look suspicious but you know aren’t important. If you start uninstalling random stuff, you could cause more harm than good and break your phone’s vital components.
There are many apps that come pre-installed by phone manufacturers or carriers and are harmless. Make sure you use caution in regards to what you remove.
3. Unusually High Data Usage
Most people have unlimited data plans so they don’t look at the “Data Usage” menu in settings. But if your phone is acting up, it’s another easy way to check for issues. If you have a virus, it could be sending your private data back to a third party via an app that’s constantly running and communicating with bad actors.
To check, go to Settings > Connections & WiFi > Data Usage and poke around for a bit.
YouTube, Spotify, and other streaming services regularly use a lot of data. But if another app is using way too much, something isn’t right. No random app should use 5GB in a given month, so look for anything out of place here.
When you find something that looks suspicious, uninstall it (after making sure it’s not essential to your device).