My Android smartphone downloads apps automatically without any interaction. Generally, the apps are known but some are unknown apps. I can only assume this is a virus/malware.

So I decided to format the phone and installed antivirus/malware app(s). Sadly a few minutes later the unknown apps installed themselves and I cannot delete them even with the anti malware apps.

So in desperation, I reformatted my phone again and low and behold the app reinstalled itself without me asking it too.

Anti Virus Apps I've Tried:


  • Avast
  • Bitdefender
  • AVG
  • Quick Heal

Anti Malware:

  • Malwarebytes.

Every time I scan my phone at least 6-8 malicious apps are found installed on it! I'm at a complete loss of what to do!

Why do the applications keep installing?
Can/How do I get rid of them?
Is it time for me to seek professional help/replace the phone/anything I can do on my own?

  • 1
    Also be warned, the scope of this is fairly large and fixing it is a fairly involved process that will affect any accounts linked to the phone. May 2, 2016 at 19:18
  • 1
    Could we get an idea of what apps you're seeing that are potentially viruses?
    – d0nut
    May 2, 2016 at 19:38
  • 2
    If you have Google account backup enabled on your phone, Google could be reinstalling the apps when you first sync the phone after a wipe. May 2, 2016 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


An increasingly common attack is to use your Google Play Store credentials to force apps onto the device via the web page for the app. If you are seeing apps install automatically this is the likely source.

In any event if you got malware on your phone, you really need to change your Google credentials and reset any 2fa tokens or app-specific passwords that are outstanding.

Edit: just a bit more musing about android vulnerabilities

When you "format your phone" really you are removing everything in the user directory (all your downloaded apps and settings) and calling everything back from the "factory" directory. If you have rooted your phone (intentionally or unintentionally) this area can get unlocked and a particularly persistent malware could copy itself there, where it would survive a "factory data reset". If you have refreshed all your Google credentials and the phone still exhibits strange behavior, you will need to restore the factory section with a "rom" which is a file containing the entire storage image in the factory default state. These are available online from various places (http://www.xda-developers.com is the most thorough) and the process is fairly simple for most models.


You don't mention what phone it is, when the problem started or where you got it in the first place.

I've found that some of the cheaper Android phones and tablets for sale on Amazon come with malware embedded in the firmware itself which installs all sorts of adware and helpful Chinese "utilities," even after deleting all the responsible apps and non-stock services as root.

  • Sources to claim of including malware? May 2, 2016 at 21:12
  • Personal experience. Google Broservice or Linervice.
    – Ivan
    May 3, 2016 at 1:32

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