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Android Should Let Users Remove “System Apps” Normally

“I was checking out a webpage from the Chrome browser on my Android device. Out of the blue, it prompted…

By Nazmul , in Android , at October 22, 2016 Tags:

“I was checking out a webpage from the Chrome browser on my Android device. Out of the blue, it prompted a new pop-up webpage. When I realized that the webpage automatically began installing something on my phone, it was already too late,” Annisur Rahman wrote to me.

“Since then, whenever I open the browser, a webpage with a certain link starts to connect to the Internet. The link redirects to random web-pages that contain either advertisements or automatically starts downloading applications.”

He said that he cleared cache, cookies and even the browser’s all data from the application manager. He also uninstalled and reinstalled the Chrome browser, but the problem simply persisted.

“Chrome is my favorite browser,” he said. “I don’t want to stop using it.”

In addition to the fear of losing the comfortability, he knew his device became vulnerable to cyber tricks.

It was like typical adware we often encounter online.

Keeping that in mind, I told him to download and run different anti-Virus software. He did, but still, there was no luck. None of the top-rated anti-virus applications was able to detect anything unusual.

Last, I told him to install Malwarebytes, which only seeks to detect malware. It could detect three possible threats. Among them, I figured out, two were pre-installed by the device manufacturer and not termed as adware by Malwarebytes. The other one, however, seemed unusual. So Annisur tried to uninstall it through Malwarebytes.

But Malwarebytes was unable to do so, because, I guessed, the malware was enjoying the authority of a system application. Hence, Malwarebytes did not have permission to remove it.

How come an externally downloaded application become “system app” in the first place? The first question begs another question. If there is a glitch that allows it to be, why such “system apps” cannot be completely removed?

When it comes to system app, users can “disable” it, which is meaningless. In order to uninstall it completely, your device is required to be rooted – which, of course, is not a normal procedure and can cause you the warranty of the device.

I helped Annisur identify the “system app” from the list of all apps in the Application Manager. There was only one option available: “Disable” (and “Force Stop” was blurred). He triggered “disable”. Still, no luck.

The screengrab of the problem

I googled about the problem. They suggested to factory reset the device. Others recommended rooting the device.

Annisur was a bit lucky, though.

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The Android device of one of my colleagues was so severely compromised that the virus or malware, which was even more dangerous, didn’t even allow him to “disable” it.

Both the cases of Annisur or my colleague were not isolated ones. Since Android has already spread massively among users with little computing literacy, such vulnerability now poses a grave risk.

If Android cannot stop the glitch which the malware exploits to infiltrate into Android device as a “System app”, there should be an avenue available to the users to completely uninstall certain type of system apps in a normal way.