What to do if your phone or laptop is infected with a virus

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Noticed something dodgy on your device? If you think you have got a virus, there are three easy steps to take to remove it according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC):

1. Confirm your device is infected

The NCSC suggests that signs of infection include:

Ø Your device is running slowly, rebooting by itself, frequently closes programs or apps you are using, or opens those you are not.

Ø You have pop-up boxes from programs/apps you don't recognise, asking you to do unexpected things.

Ø Someone you know tells you that they've received unexpected emails from you, advertising unlikely products, or perhaps asking for money.

If you spot any of these, you may want to run an antivirus check to see if anything is detected. If you’ve got antivirus software already running on your phone or laptop, it might alert you automatically.

2. Try and fix the infection

The NCSC suggests the following:

Ø Update your device and programs.

Ø Open your antivirus product and run a scan, then follow its advice.

Ø If your antivirus can’t clean your device up – you’ll have to wipe it entirely and re-install everything, starting with your operating system. You may need to get expert help to do this.

Ø If you cannot download and install an antivirus product because your web browser (e.g. Chrome, Edge, Firefox) is infected, you will probably need to get expert help.

The NCSC recommends doing a factory reset on your phone or tablet if you think it’s been infected since antivirus software doesn’t work in the same way on these devices. Usually, you’ll find this in the settings. Just make sure you’ve got a backup of your recent data to avoid losing your messages, photos and videos. Once the reset is complete, you can restore to your last backup before the virus got into your device.

3. Keep your device safe after fixing the infection

To prevent your phone or laptop from suffering the same fate again, make sure you’ve got antivirus installed which is regularly updating. Keep on top of your software updates too, as new versions of the programmes you use will cover vulnerabilities which criminals exploited in the last version.

You can read the original guidance here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/hacked-device-actiøon-to-take

Sign up to our free core membership at the NEBRC to receive fortnightly tips and tricks to help keep your devices safe from attacks. Often, awareness of the scams that are circulating is one of the best ways to protect yourself.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) are working together to support the establishment of Regional Cyber Resilience Centres (CRCs). The CRCs represent a significant opportunity for the NCSC to expand the reach of its guidance and services to smaller organisations across the country and provide an extra level of practical support to enhance their impact. The NCSC is currently assisting the NPCC in determining the suite of cyber security services that the CRCs will be able to offer.