Most of us are familiar with computer viruses and the havoc they can wreck on your operating system. That's why most of us use some sort of virus protector on our home computer and avoid websites that are suspicious. But your phone is just as susceptible, or more, to sneak attacks from thieves who want to steal sensitive information.
In a worst case scenario you could see big charges on your bill and even have your private conversations recorded and sent to hackers who will have access to bank information, your GPS location, friends and family information, etc. Some people have even reported that hackers demanded ransoms and other scary things after taking over their phones.
The good news is, if you pay attention to your phones behavior there are several signs that your phone may contain dangerous malware. Look for the following signs which apply to Androids and iPhones alike. If you notice any of them, download a quality ad blocker and virus protector immediately.
Battery Life Has Decreased and Your Phone Overheats
Every phone will need a battery replacement at some point, but malware that runs in the background uses a lot of juice that can make power consumption shoot through the roof. That mean you'll notice the need to recharge more often. If your phone use has not changed but battery life is less than it use to be - a virus may be to blame.
All of that power consumption also means that the phone will run hotter and even overheat. If temperatures get hot enough it will shut down for safety in an attempt to prevent internal damage. During heavy usage like playing games or watching movies a phone will run hotter but it should never shut down or be hot to the touch. If it is - you may have malware that needs to be removed.
Data Usage Has Went Up
A lot of people have unlimited data plans and don't pay a lot of attention to their data usage. That could be a mistake since increased data use is a quick way to identify potential malware and virus activity on your phone. While running in the background, malware and viruses attempt to transmit data over the internet. You'll be more likely to notice suspicious activity if you have a data limit, but even if you don't it makes a lot of sense to do a weekly check and see if things look normal.
Your Bill Has Increased Unexpectedly
While those malware apps are sending your sensitive data to who knows where, they may also be sending SMS text messages that come with fees as a way of racking up charges to your account. Unfortunately, you may not notice the fees until the end of your billing cycle. That's why it makes sense to turn off SMS messages if they are not something you use often. This is relatively easy to do in your phones settings.
Strange Apps and Adware Pop Ups
Have you ever found an app on your phone that you don't remember downloading? We have had mysterious apps appear on our home screen and the first thing we do is delete it without opening it. It's not worth the risk. Any app you download should be easily recognizable and named just like it was in the app store it came from. If anything looks strange or unfamiliar get rid of it.
Adware is fairly common and many free apps include some sort of advertising to generate revenue - after all the developer doesn't want to work for free. But if you see advertising popping up randomly outside of the app you are using, especially after closing your browser, then there is probably malware on your phone. These popups are another way of attempting to steal data. The easiest defense against adware popups is downloading an ad blocking browser like Opera.
If you run a lot of apps, it's normal for an app to crash from time to time. Games will often crash on older phones since they are quite intensive on memory and out of date phones may lack the memory to keep them stable leading to a crash. But if you notice low key apps crashing, or see excessive app crashing you might have malware hiding out.
Go into you app list and double check that everything looks legit. Any apps you don't recognize, remember downloading, or don't use anymore should be deleted from your phone. Taking a look at installed apps from time to time could save you a lot of headaches, and a hard reboot of your phone later.