How to Clean a Virus Off of a Cell Phone

By April Khan

Viruses and spyware are no longer a threat to PCs only. Mobile phones are now a target for malicious apps and downloads. If you believe a virus or spyware is on your phone, be careful to avoid losing important information. Seek professional help at your local store or call your wireless provider.

If you feel comfortable that you will not lose important information, you can try restoring to factory settings or restarting into safe mode.

Feeling like your device is infected is uncomfortable, but now that it has happened:

  1. Invest your time to craft a troubleshooting checklist. What to include? Device makers are eager to help, figure out the phone number and "key phrases" the company uses, these can be strange error codes or the magic phrase to use with their automated answering machines.
  2. Save yourself some time, next time.  Have a representative teach you how to back-up and restore your device information.  
  3. Yes, store your photos on your phone, but store them elsewhere too! Yours truly lost wedding photos by not following this advice. 

Handling a Virus

Contact your wireless provider. Oftentimes, your wireless provider will be able to perform a scan on your phone to check for errors or viruses from within the call center. You will need to have your account details ready (name, address, phone number and security passcode). You will also need to have your SIM card and IMEI number. The provider will perform a diagnostic test over the phone and determine whether the problem can be fixed over the phone or if your phone will need to be fixed by a technician. If they determine the phone cannot be fixed (the virus cannot be erased), you will be given a replacement handset.

Use a virus scanner. If you have an Android device, there are virus scanners available from the Google play store. Carefully review and install. The scanner will prompt you to scan the device. For the savvy, just like PCs, you can restart your Android device in safe mode and remove the offending apps.

Restore your phone to factory settings. This will delete all new programs or added files on your phone as well as all of your saved data.


Backup your device. Visit your local Apple store, or a mobile device store for trouble-shooting help.