Eight signs your phone is infected with malware - and what to do

Cyber security experts have listed the signs that your phone could be infected with malware, and have explained what you need to do about it. Ethan Bennet from Sonin has also given advice on what you need to watch out for when installing another app on your phone.

Ethan said: "It seems there’s an app for everything, but some apps that look innocent actually have malicious intent. These app creators want to compromise your privacy and security by gaining access to your personal data, like your email passwords and banking information. There is an infinite list of apps unapologetically collecting your data–whether you know it or not."

Here are some common apps you should take note of, according to Ethan:

Social Media Apps: Facebook collects 70% of your personal data in the name of targeted advertising. And don’t forget that apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger are owned by Facebook, also giving them access to your contact list, chat history, location, and more.

Dating Apps: Hot singles aren’t the only ones interested in your information. If there were to be another significant data breach involving a dating app, like the breach in 2020 that exposed the data of 2.28 million users on a hacker forum, your information could get leaked to scammers, resulting in phishing or even identity theft.

Weather Apps: A little unexpected, but some weather apps are actually laced with malware or trojans, which could tamper with the functionality of your phone. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some also have aggressive advertising that forces the user to watch an entire ad (or two) before being able to use the app.

The Signs And Symptoms Of A Malware Infection

If you think your smartphone may have been infected with a malicious app already, here are some signs it might exhibit:

  • Slow performance

  • Random reboots

  • Links from strange recipients via text

  • Overheating phone

  • Uncharacteristically high data usage

  • Fast-draining battery

  • Taking more time than unusual to shut down

  • Weird beeping and flashing noises during phone calls

Ethan said: "The good news is that even if your smartphone does have malware present, all you need to do is delete the suspicious app, use an antivirus program, and/or perform a factory reset."

Due to the ever-present privacy problem in the digital age, Android has created an app to help track when your microphone or camera is in use. It works by creating “Access Dots,” which are coloured dots that you can choose to have appear in various colours at the corners of your screen. These dots light up whenever a third-party app uses your camera, microphone, or GPS location. Similarly, the new iOS 14 update includes this feature for iPhone users, so you are always aware of what information you’re sharing via your mobile device.

Another way you can combat spyware is by updating your settings to only give apps you deem worthy permission to use your microphone, camera, or GPS location. If the app cannot function without having these permissions enabled, it is a good rule of thumb to simply part ways with it and delete that app for your safety.

Lastly, there are some hardware pieces that you can use to manually block the microphone or camera from being used, such as a vinyl sticker that can peel on and off the camera like a sticker, except that it won’t leave a sticky residue. You can even purchase a headphone jack designed to physically block the headphone port from being used.