Why is My Phone Downloading Random Apps?


Your Android device has been compromised if apps are installing themselves without your permission. There’s a myriad of reasons why this isn’t a good thing, but the most important reason is your personal information is at great risk.

Why Are Random Apps Downloading on My Phone

If you notice random apps have been downloading to your Android device, this could be for a number of reasons. In this article, we’ll be going over the different causes of this strange problem, and how to fix it.

1. There’s Malware

One reason this could be happening is because of malware. This basically means that there’s a virus forcing your phone to download random apps. There are many things you can try that may get rid of malware on your device.

1. First, uninstall all the random apps, as well as any other suspicious looking apps you have on your phone.

2. Then, go to your downloads and check for anything unusual; if you see anything suspicious, delete it. Now, make sure Google Play Protect is turned on.

3. To do this, on the Google Play Store app, tap your profile icon.

4. Next, tap ‘Play Protect’ and then ‘Settings’. Finally, turn ‘Scan apps with Play Protect’ on, if it was off before.

5. Play Protect will now search through all your device apps to see if there’s anything suspicious.

Another thing you should definitely try is turning off downloads from unknown sources.

To do this;

1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.

2. Tap ‘Security’.

3. In the Security section, locate “Allow installation of apps from unknown sources”. Next to this, if the setting is on, turn it off. You will no longer be able to download apps from untrusted or unknown sources.

If you’ve tried this all but the problem insists, then it must not be from a virus.

3. Someone Has Access to Your Google Play Account and Is Downloading Apps to Your Phone

It’s possible someone is logged into your Google Play account and is downloading apps, thus downloading them to your phone as well as theirs.

This is not always malicious or from a hacker; it’s possible you let your friend or family member use your account a long time ago and forgot about it, and they’re unknowingly still using your account. To log devices out of your Google Play Store account;

1.  Go to play.google.com

2. If you’re not logged in already, log in using your email and password.

3. Press ‘Library & Devices’, and press the ‘Devices’ tab.

4. If you see any unknown devices, press the three vertical dots by the device name. You can then press ‘Delete’ or ‘Log Out’ and the device will no longer be logged into your Google Play Store account.

We recommend changing your password immediately after this so your account is no longer compromised, and you won’t have to worry about them logging back in.

4. You Have Auto Update On

Another reason you may see random apps being downloaded to your device, is because of an issue with Auto Update on your device.

This could cause the issue for a number of reasons; it’s possible one of your apps broke off into two separate apps, the apps network was hacked and caused multiple apps to download from an update, or it’s just a software bug.

Either way, if this is the issue, turning off Auto Update will surely fix it. Here’s how to turn off auto updates on your Android device.

1. Open the Google Play Store.

2. Tap your Profile picture.

3. Now, go to ‘Settings’.

4. Tap ‘Network Preferences’ and then tap ‘Auto-Update Apps’.

5. Press ‘Don’t Auto Update Apps’

6. Finally, tap ‘Done’ to apply your changes. As long as the setting was applied properly, Google Play Store will not automatically update your device apps anymore. If this didn’t solve the problem;

5. There’s A Bug

If nothing else fixed the issue, it’s probably a bug. Whether the bug is from a software or network issue is unknown. If your device is jailbroken, the issue probably stems from this, and your jailbreak service is probably infected or broken, and it’s recommended to revert back to vanilla Android.

If you never jailbroken your device and the issue is still occurring, we recommend checking for updates. To update your Android OS Version;

1. Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi; it will need to be connected to Wi-Fi for the update to go through.

2. Open your device’s ‘Settings’ app.

3. Select ‘About Phone’. Here, it will tell you the latest OS version and more.

4. In this section, tap ‘Check for Updates’.

5. Install the update. Depending on your device, you’ll see either Install Now, Reboot and install, or Install System Software.

Whatever it says, tap it and let your phone download the update. Your phone will eventually reboot, and when it does, the latest update should be applied to your device.

How to Stop Random Apps From Downloading on Android

1. Remove your Google Account and Change your Password

Your Google account is invariably linked to your Android. It gives your Android device various features to utilize. Because of the nature of apps, especially third-party apps, and the internet, your account information is always at risk on some level–minor or otherwise.

It comes down to your habits. Are you an individual who downloads often, without security measures put in place, and visits sketchy websites all the time? Then it’s highly likely that your account has been compromised.

It’s also just as likely that you were unlucky and tapped the wrong website or downloaded the wrong app once, and that was all that was needed.

Log out of your account and remove it, then change your password. It’s highly recommended you change your password to a set of random numbers and random letters, but write the password down.

Use capitalization and symbols, too. It makes it that much harder for someone to gain access to your account through brute force.

2. Uncheck Installation from Unknown Sources

When you download an app from the Google Play Store, there’s a level of expectation that what you’re downloading isn’t malicious. And, most of the time, you’d be right.

However, people are clever and have found dozens of methods of piggybacking their garbage onto well known apps. Some unsuspecting victim, thinking it’s okay, downloads the app and now their phone is infected.

Generally speaking, you can download Google Play Store apps with no problem. But what if you want to install an app that isn’t available on the Google Play Store? You get ahold of its APK file and install from the phone. In order to do that, you need to allow “Unknown Sources,” most of the time. You can see where this is headed.

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Locate Security. Select it.

3. Locate Unknown Sources. Tap the slider to the left to turn it OFF.

3. Restrict Background Data

When you aren’t actively using an app, and it’s left in the background, that app is still using data to some extent. It’s pinging the server–that’s using your data. It’s seeking out new updates–that’s using your data.

It’s running ads–that’s using your data. Data can be hijacked. And, with dozens of apps running in the background, there’s several avenues someone, with malicious intent, can take. All they need is one app lacking in security.

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Locate Data Usage or Data.

3. Find Restrict Background Data. Uncheck the box or bop the slider to the left to turn it OFF. You may have to select More, the three vertical dots, and select it from the menu.

4. Disable Automatic App Updates

Disabling “Automatic App Updates” follows the same line of thinking as restricting background data.

1. Open Google Play Store.

2. Open the Menu. It’s the three horizontal lines.

3. Select Settings.

4. Locate Auto-Update Apps. Choose “Don’t auto-update apps.”

5. Disable Automatic Restore

When your device is synced to your account, files and data are uploaded to your Google account. If your phone is destroyed, stolen or lost, you can retrieve the data through the Google account that was linked.

With Automatic Restore, settings and data can be reinstated when you reinstall an app. You don’t want that. The issue can stem from that saved data.

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Keep scrolling until you locate Backup & Reset. Select it.

3. Find Automatic Restore. Tap the slider to the left to turn it OFF.

6. Delete Related Apps

This solution wasn’t placed near the top for one simple reason: it’s best to prepare your phone before you delete any apps. Disabling several different settings beforehand can decrease the likelihood of the problem persisting afterwards.

Think back to any recent changes you made to your Android device. Target third-party apps and apps that were installed with an APK.

1. Tap and hold the app. You’ll be free to move the app anywhere now.

2. Move it to “Uninstall.”

7. Install a Google Security App

Your phone already does a great job of protecting your information, but it isn’t perfect and holes are found occasionally. Luckily, or unluckily, when they are found, they’re almost immediately fixed with an update. On the other hand, there’s no such thing as “too much security.”

Examples of security apps are: Avast Mobile Security, Bitdefender Antivirus, and Norton Security & Antivirus, to name a few.

8. Revert your ROM and Flash

Rooted phones, as freeing as they are, are susceptible to more problems than normal. They aren’t always privy to security updates that the average phone has. Usually you’ll snag an update by some workaround that eventually gets patched.

If you have a rooted Android device, reverting back to your stock ROM can solve the problem you’re experiencing.

Brady Klinger-Meyers is an experienced tech writer and marketer who currently writes for Techzillo as well as other popular sites like MakeUseOf. At Techzillo, he focuses on consumer technology in general with his interest being Android OS. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


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