The Danger of Android Pop-Ups (And How to Stop Them)
If there’s a time when we enjoy ads, it’s during the Super Bowl. But that’s pretty much it.
When they start jumping out of our Android screens, pop-up ads receive all the righteous anger they deserve. Not to mention, unlike the Super Bowl commercials, these pop-ups are potentially dangerous. They cause glitches, sabotage the phone’s performance, and may be a sign that hackers have breached the phone system. That’s when every Android user starts googling “how to stop pop-up ads on Android.”
If it was malware that caused these pop-ups, an antivirus can help you get rid of them. Take Clario. When you start your free trial and create an account, the antivirus scans your Android device. If malicious files are found, the app offers to delete them and explains why.
Now, let us explain why ads randomly pop up on your phone and how to get rid of them. You’ll also discover:
- What causes pop-ups?
- How to identify fishy pop-ups and scammy ads
- 3 basic strategies to stop pop-ups
- How to stop pop-ups on Android from Chrome
- How to detect malicious apps
What causes pop-ups?
Ads are probably the main reason why you see pop-ups but certainly not the most dangerous one. Here’s a detailed list of causes and what you can do about them.
At the dawn of internet advertising, pop-ups were run by third-party organizations that simply took advantage of websites. You could’ve searched for a chocolate cookie recipe and got bombarded with You-Are-The-Winner pop-ups.
As web browsers and users learned to detect and block annoying ads, the number of pop-ups started decreasing. That is, until marketers rediscovered their potential for lead generation.
Don’t get us wrong: there are cases when ad pop-ups are okay for boosting a marketing strategy. Still, 73% of surveyed users mentioned they disliked pop-up ads in general, while 70% particularly said mobile ads were their main hate object. Ouch.
This doesn’t seem to stop marketers from offering online users the chance to take a survey, sign up for a super-duper deal, or participate in the 10% weekend discount promotion – all from a pop-up window.
- What to do?
While annoying, these kinds of ads popping up on your phone are harmless and disappear as you click the X beside them. But if they keep getting at you regardless of how many times you’ve tried to close the pop-up, it might be adware.
A type of malicious software, adware viciously keeps displaying ads to you. Once it gets into your phone system, it floods any ad-running website with a never-ending stream of pop-ups. Even worse, it can continue showing you ads even when you’re not in a browser.
- What to do?
Seeing random ads popping up on your phone screen is unbearable, but you can fix this by customizing your options and cookie preferences. Usually, trustworthy websites listen to their customers, so when you hit the Don’t show this again button, they hide it for good.
The real trouble comes when you start seeing pop-ups on the Android home screen out of the blue, and the messages you read give you chills. If that’s the case, start using a trustworthy antivirus on your Android phone.
Tech support scam
Did you see a pop-up window telling you there’s a virus on your mobile device? And you need to call them NOW if you want your data to be safe.
Well, many people get so scared they do call this ‘tech support,’ only to learn it’s a scam. But if the victims have already given away their private information, it’s too late.
- What to do?
- Don’t call the number or click on the link. Reputable support will never make a pop-up ad telling you there is a problem and you need to call them ASAP to fix it.
- Chances are, this pop-up doesn’t get blocked by the browser, or you’ve installed some app that had an invisible add-on. So install or run your security or antivirus software to remove the pop-ups.
This might be the worst one.
Ransomware is malware that blocks files on your phone, making them inaccessible until you pay a ransom. The message may look like the one you receive from some government institution (IRS, FBI, etc.) and address various issues: from you reportedly looking up pornography to evading taxes.
- What to do?
- Don’t pay the ransom! There’s absolutely no guarantee your files will get unblocked. Plus, you’ll only encourage the attackers as it shows their malicious attack has worked.
- Inform the national cybersecurity center about the incident.
The steps to follow when ransomware has attacked your computer and your smartphone are roughly the same. So you can read our detailed guide on how to remove ransomware from your Windows PC and use it as a reference.
Android phones can get viruses, too, and these are specific Android viruses. You could download them alongside a shady app without even noticing. You could have also accidentally tapped on a scammy link, and it opened up like the digital version of Pandora’s box.
- What to do?
Install antivirus software and rest assured that your Android phone is safe. So far, this is the best option to keep your phone (and information) secured.
Now that you know what causes pop-ups on Android, let’s see how to tell if they’re potentially malicious.
How to identify fishy pop-ups and scammy ads
There are several signs that will help you recognize a malicious pop-up. If one or more of these apply, it means the pop-up might be more than just an ad.
- It says you’ve won a helluva lot of money in the lottery. And that’s you, the person who’s never purchased a lottery ticket in their life.
- It pretends to be from government organizations. Come on, it’s not their style, especially if you’re ‘caught’ downloading movies or watching NSFW content.
- It’s riddled with spelling mistakes, exclamation marks, weird symbols, and unprofessional imagery. If this is what your Android’s random ads look like, change your browser settings and use good antivirus software to stop them.
- It’s taking up your entire screen. Be careful! The close or minimize buttons will probably lead to opening a link rather than to the action it suggests. If this has happened, run a security check ASAP.
- It features a sketchy phone number or link. Will Google use a pop-up ad that opens in a new window with https:/\92377yttjdkhuydy33789-android-care-101 in its web address? We don’t think so.
So, you’ve identified that the ads your phone randomly plays are, in fact, malicious. The question is, how to stop pop-up ads on your Android phone?
3 basic strategies to stop pop-ups
Knowing a few tricks on how to stop pop-ups from spoiling your digital fun may help you get rid of them. And they’re very simple.
- Control ad choices. If a website asks your permission to collect cookies, check only the ‘Strictly necessary’ box.
- Find out which app plays dirty. This can be done by running a security check on your Android device.
- Change browser settings. It depends on the browser you’re using, though usually, you can do this in Settings.
Is it the Chrome browser that doesn’t filter the pop-ups? Let’s change this in a couple of clicks.
How to stop pop-ups on Android from Chrome
To stop pop-ups in the Chrome mobile browser:
- Open the Chrome app. In the upper right corner, tap the three dots and scroll to Settings.
- Tap Site Settings.
- Tap Pop-ups and Redirects and turn them off.
- Move back to Site Settings. Tap Ads and turn them off.
How to detect malicious apps
Since adware may come as an unfortunate bonus during an app’s download, checking your phone regularly may help you identify the source app and uninstall it from your device. One way to do it is by using Clario.
Clario’s daily malware scan will keep your Android phone secure, and its new Messaging feature will notify you if there's a malware alert. Plus, it will check for any hidden adware you may not see even when looking through the app list.
Here’s how Clario Android antivirus works:
1. Download Clario from the Play Store.
2. Create your account and proceed to Start Scan.
3. In a few minutes, you’ll see the list of potentially malicious files on your phone and suggestions to take further actions.
The best part is that from now on, every time you download a new application, Clario’s antivirus for Android will automatically scan it for viruses. And once it’s done, you’ll receive push notifications with further instructions. If your new downloads do contain risky files, the antivirus will let you delete them in a single tap.
So, if you’re looking for an antivirus that runs automatic daily checks, has live 24/7 support from cybersecurity experts, and treats you like a friend (seriously, the user experience is really welcoming and calm), get Clario’s antivirus for Android. Start with a free trial and protect your digital wellbeing today.