how to manually scan for malware…

In the past, Android has had issues with malicious apps that have found their way onto the Google Play Store. In these cases, users can install these apps without their knowledge and then run into big trouble. Malware, ransomware, Trojans… anything is possible.

No review process is perfect. But these malicious apps often only exist for a short time in the Play Store. That doesn’t mean everyone is safe. You may be the only person who has installed a malicious app, but that’s still one person too many.

Fortunately, your Android device can perform manual scans to detect malicious apps. I used this feature quite often. The only time the feature found malware was when I ran a scan test after intentionally installing a questionable app that wasn’t from the Play Store. The scan worked and the app was removed.

However, I do not recommend attempting such a test. The smartphone I used was not associated with my personal Google account and had been restored to its factory settings. The good news is that the feature works and you should use it manually and regularly.

Let me show you how.

How to run a manual scan on Android

The only thing you will need: An updated Android device associated with a valid Google account.

So, if that’s done, let’s move on to the analysis.

1. Unlock your device

The first thing you need to do is unlock your Android device.

2. Open the Google Play Store

On your Android device, open the Google Play Store app. Once open, tap your profile icon in the top right of the window, then tap Play Protect in the pop-up window.

You can also access the Application/Device Manager from this page. Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Start the analysis

In the window Play Protectyou will likely see “No harmful apps detected” and the time the last scan was performed. When Play Protect finds an app that it considers malicious, depending on the severity of its effects, it will disable or remove it.

To get started, tap Scan. The scan will go through all the apps you have installed. Unless you have hundreds of apps, the process should take less than a minute. With over 150 apps on my device (including system apps), the scan took about 20 seconds. If Play Protect finds anything malicious on your device, it will fix the problem automatically.

My Pixel 8 Pro was last scanned at 2:20 a.m. Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET.

The chances of you ever running into a malicious app on your Android device are slim, as long as you’re careful about what you install from the Play Store and never install apps from outside of the official store. Still, I’m relieved to know that I can run a scan at any time and that Play Protect is very effective at what it does.

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