How to tell if your phone or tablet has a virus

Long before ransomware and large-scale hacks became everyday problems, viruses were crawling into our desktops and infecting our screens. Somewhere in the world, there’s a cynical coder with an ax to grind or bills to pay who can’t wait to ruin your day.

These days, smartphones and tablets are just as vulnerable as regular computers, and malware is often used to subvert your private accounts. Your phone is a gateway to a lot of personal data, and malware is often designed to break into your email, online banking, and apps.

Getting lazy now could wreak havoc on your smartphone or tablet, plus all the networks it’s connected to. The more time the malware has, the more it will try to manipulate your apps and data as well as steal from you.

Be proactive.There are simple steps to make sure your smartphone is safe from hackers.

The most dangerous situation is when your device is infected, and you don’t even realize it. Malware doesn’t announce itself. It works as secretly as possible so that you’ll overlook the damage it’s causing.

One commonly held belief is that Apple phones and tablets never get malware. But the devices are not impervious to infections and scammers.

Symptoms of an infected device

• Data usage: The first sign that your phone has a virus is the rapid depletion of its data. That’s because the virus is trying to run a lot of background tasks and communicate with the internet. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, this could also cost you money. You may have to buy extra data to keep up with all that wasted processing. Essentially, you’ re paying to let malware ruin your device and run havoc on it.

• Crashing apps: There you are, playing Angry Birds on your phone, and it suddenly crashes. That’s strange. It never used to happen. After the game crashes a few more times, you start to suspect fowl-er, foul play. Most viruses tamper with your regular operations, and it’s common for your favorite apps crash without explanation. Make sure you update all of your apps to prevent viral interference.

• Pop-ups: Many websites have pop-up ads. But if you start seeing pop-ups all the time, especially for products or services that seem suspicious, you may want to check for a virus. Whatever you do, don’t click on the links. Virus-based pop-ups are almost always designed to make your device even sicker.

• Unexplained charges: Ads and crashing apps are annoying. Mysterious billing will hit you where it hurts, your bank account. It’s particularly common among Android users, who find unusual charges in the “SMS” category. Their gadgets are infected with malware and sends messages to premium-rate numbers.

• Unwanted apps: True to its name, Trojans download apps may look legitimate. They’re designed in the same style as real apps to avoid detection. If you see an app that looks familiar, but you don’t remember downloading it, check and see whether it’s authentic. If it looks fishy, delete it.

• Battery drain: All of these digital shenanigans take a lot of energy. Not only does your phone use up more data, but the battery runs out faster as well. Like actual viruses, malware can leave the body of your device completely exhausted.

The symptoms for Apple and Android devices are pretty similar, but the treatments can be very different for each. These include removing questionable apps under settings. Read more detailed instructions on getting rid of a virus on Android or iPhone or iPad.

Take your viruses seriously, because they definitely mean you harm, and they won’t go away on their own. How else can you maintain your security in the wild world of cyber-crime?

Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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