Do Tablets Get Viruses and Do You Need an Anti-Virus?

When it comes to computers, some of the biggest threats include viruses, which can infect our computers’ system and then spread out to infect a lot more files and data to the point that they are rendered unusable anymore. As such, there is always a need to protect a computer against possible infections. But what about tablets? Do tablets also get viruses and do they even need protection against viruses?

Tablets get viruses but they are only common in Android tablets. Meanwhile, there are no known viruses in Apple iPads but they can still get infected by malware. As such, regardless of what your tablet is, you would still need to protect it by using an anti-virus app for your tablet.

Viruses will always be problems for any kind of computer, and that is what makes them so annoying for different people who only want to make sure that they get to enjoy their computers in peace. And, even though there are now more and more people switching over to tablets, the bad part is that viruses have made their way to tablets as well. This is why there is a need to keep your tablets protected and that you are being careful when you are browsing the internet.

Hands holding Samsung Galaxy S6 lite tablet

Can tablets get viruses?

For the longest time possible, computers have been experiencing problems with viruses that can easily render a computer useless. That’s because, when these viruses are executed, they can self-replicate and infect a lot of different files, data, and processes to the point that they can damage the entire computer itself. This is why computers need to be always protected using different software so that viruses won’t be able to infect them.

So, while computers are known to have different types of viruses, more and more people believe that tablets are safer because they are not built in a similar way to conventional computers. And, nowadays, there are now more and more tablet users because they are easier to use and are generally great for all-around computing due to their portability and functionality. But is it really true that tablets can’t get viruses?

The truth is that viruses can also be found in tablets and smartphones alike as there are now more and more types of viruses that can easily infect tablets if you are not too careful. Comparatively, viruses are rarer in tablets than they are in conventional computers but they still do exist. And this is true when it comes to Android tablets as Apple iPads have no known viruses.

With that said, even tablets are no longer safe from potential threats that you can get when you browse the internet or download risky files from anywhere. Android tablets are the ones that are under threat here as viruses only exist in such operating systems. But, as you would know later, even Apple iPads aren’t completely safe from threats as well.

As long as there are people who are willing to use technology for questionable reasons and purposes, there will always be viruses. That’s why, no matter how much our technology has improved, viruses will always be there to make life miserable not only for those who own computers but also for tablet users as well. This is why it is essential for us to use different apps and software that can help improve our devices’ protection against threats such as viruses.

surface pro powered on with type cover from the side

How can viruses infect tablets?

We have mentioned that viruses in tablets are comparatively rare compared to the ones you find in computers. Then again, it still is pretty much possible for your tablet to get infected by a virus if you’re not too careful with how you use it. So, how can viruses infect tablets?

  1. Downloading infected apps. The Play Store on your Android tablet is full of different apps that you can easily download. The worst part is that Google doesn’t always make sure that all of the apps in the Play Store are safe. That means that you can potentially download an app that is actually infected with a virus, and that can mean that your tablet can also get infected as well.
  2. Visiting compromised and questionable websites. This is probably the most common reason why some tablets can get infected by viruses. If you are surfing any kind of website that you can imagine without even filtering the ones that you shouldn’t be visiting, then there is a high possibility of your tablet getting infected by a virus. This is why you need to be judicious when surfing the internet and avoid going to websites that are already questionable at face value.
  3. Opening infected emails. Emailing viruses can also be a good way for people with questionable motives to spread viruses across the internet. They usually include the virus as an executable program that is attached to the email. While opening the email probably wouldn’t hurt, downloading and opening the attachment is what can get your tablet infected.
  4. Infection from PCs. While most PC viruses are exclusive only to such computers, there are viruses that have evolved to be threats for PCs and Android tablets alike. As such, if you connect your tablet to your computer via USB, there is a chance for the virus to make its way over to your tablet and infect it as well especially if the virus can also infect Android devices.
three ipads next to each other

How to tell if your tablet has a virus?

So, the problem when it comes to viruses is that, even if your tablet gets infected, there is no guarantee that you will be able to immediately know that it has infected your device until the damage has been done and that it is already too late for you to do anything about it. Luckily for you, we have listed a few indications that will hopefully help you tell if your device has been infected by a virus.

  1. A rapid increase in data usage. This is one of the most common signs that your Android tablet may have been infected by a virus as there are some viruses that communicate with the internet a lot to the point that it uses your tablet’s data connection (if you are using a tablet with data capabilities). In the end, you will be wasting a lot of money paying off your high phone bills unless you have an unlimited data plan, which can be quite expensive. Still, you are letting the virus run havoc on your tablet to the point that you are using too much data.
  2. Apps are crashing far too often. So, if you do happen to notice that your apps crash quite often even if your tablet is powerful enough to handle the app, then there is a chance that your tablet has been infected by a virus. That’s because tablet viruses tamper with your device’s usual operations to the point that they can end up crashing some of the apps that you are using.
  3. Annoying pop-ups. Pop-ups are never rare for any website that you visit because this is one of the ways they make money. But pop-ups are also one of the ways that websites can potentially infect your device with a virus. Moreover, if you do notice that there are pop-ups every time you browse the internet even if the website shouldn’t have pop-ups, then there is a chance that a virus is causing this.
  4. Increased charges. If you look at your bill and you see that there are unexplained charges not only in your data but also in your messages, then there is a good chance that a virus infected your tablet and used its messaging capability (if your tablet has a data connection) to message itself to other users. In the end, you are not only incurring higher charges but you might also be unknowingly sending the virus to other users as well.
  5. Presence of unwanted apps. The problem with viruses is that they can easily infect your tablet’s system and through an app that may not seem suspicious but is actually unknown. That’s why some viruses are called Trojan horses, which look legitimate but are actually hiding something that can damage your tablet underneath that questionable app.
  6. The battery drains faster. As the virus wreaks havoc on your tablet, what happens is that it will drain your battery faster because it requires your tablet’s energy to power itself as well. Think of it as something similar to how you feel drained and tired when you are infected by a virus as well as the virus uses your energy reserves to wreak havoc all over your body.
Samsung galaxy Tablet

How can you remove a virus from your tablet?

If you do think that your tablet has been infected by a virus, then the only logical thing to do now is to remove the virus. But how can you remove a virus from your tablet? Well, we have listed a few steps that you can take to make sure that your tablet can rid itself of any of the viruses that may have infected it.

  • Step 1

Put your tablet into safe mode so that any third-party apps that may be running will be stopped and prevented from running. Not a lot of people know how to do this on their Android tablets but, in most cases, you can run safe mode by pressing the power button to access the different power off options. After that, press and hold the power off to bring an option wherein you can choose to restart your tablet in safe mode.

  • Step 2

When your tablet is already running safe mode, open your settings menu and then go to your apps. Go to the downloaded apps tab to see the list of all of the apps that you have downloaded into your tablet.

Try going over the list of the apps that are on your tablet. If you don’t know the name of the virus that may have infected your device, look for the most suspicious or unfamiliar name in the list of downloaded apps. This app should be the virus that is hiding in plain sight as a legitimate-looking app but is actually harmful.

  • Step 3

Tap on the questionable app but do not open it. Once you tap it, the app info page will be displayed. Choose to uninstall the app from that page. There will be some cases where this should be enough to remove the virus but there are some cases where you won’t even be allowed to uninstall the virus because of how it was designed to be that way. That means that the virus has given itself administrator status and has prevented you from uninstalling it.

  • Step 4.

Exit the apps menu if the virus can’t be uninstalled. Go to settings, security, and device administrators. In this part, you will be able to see the list of apps that have administrator status.

What you need to do now is to untick the box for the apps that you want to remove if they are indeed possessing administrator status. The questionable app that you believe to be a virus should be included here. After that, you can now return to your list of downloaded apps to remove the app.

  • Step 5.

After removing the app that contains the virus, all you need to do is to turn off your Android tablet and restart it to allow it to run in its normal mode. At this point, your Android tablet should now be safe from the virus unless there are other virus apps that you may have missed. In that case, repeat the abovementioned processes until all of the questionable apps have been removed.

ipad with keyboard and touch pad

How to protect your tablet from viruses

Now that you know how to remove a virus, what then should you be doing to protect your tablet from possible virus attacks? Here is a list of tips that you may want to use for your own tablet’s protection:

  1. Install and use anti-virus software or apps. We cannot stress how important these apps are at protecting your tablet from any virus attacks or malware. As long as a device is connected to the internet, it will be vulnerable to viruses. And even if you are using an iPad that has no known viruses, it can still be vulnerable to malware. This is why using anti-virus apps should be on your list if you own a tablet.
  2. Always update your software. No matter what device you are using, never forget or even delay software updates because of how most updates are there to help protect your tablet from any viruses. Software updates also enhance your device’s security measures to make sure that you are as safe from possible attacks as possible.
  3. Always be wary of the apps that you install. Be judicious when it comes to installing apps especially if they do not come from Google Play or the App Store. Always read the reviews and make sure that the app is legit before installing it.
  4. Be careful about opening questionable emails and text messages. There are some viruses that spread themselves to other devices using emails or texts. Do not open any of the links or attachments on such emails or text messages.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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