Types of pop-ups on Android
Pop-up ads on Android can come from a number of different sources, and each one will involve a different strategy for dealing with them. Some of the most common types are:
- Browser pop-up ads: These are just like the annoying ads we all know and hate on our desktop computers, but now on your mobile as well. They are limited specifically to your internet browser app.
- Home screen pop-ups: These pop-ups appear on your home screen even if you aren’t using any apps. They are usually sent by apps present on your phone.
If you’re like us, then you’ll find that only a tiny fraction of Android pop-ups are helpful. Some pop-ups, like retargeting ads, can follow you around the web and pester you for months on end. Others, however, can be not only annoying but deliver fake virus pop-ups to your Android phone. But before we learn to block pop-ups, lets make sure we can identify if they’re a problem.
How to identify fishy pop-ups and ads
Much like with many other scams and attacks, a few things can help you identify a malicious Android pop-up.
- Strange promises: Did you win a lottery without entering? Have you been promised a cash prize just for clicking on a link? These are highly suspect promises.
- False authority: Malicious pop-ups may try to pose as local authorities, government services, or reputable companies. Observe how real local authorities communicate so you can tell what legitimate messages should look like.
- Invasive design: If pop-ups are absolutely necessary, most reputable and legitimate app designers try to strike a fine balance between visibility and unobtrusiveness. If the pop-up takes up your whole screen and is hard to close, that’s because it doesn’t want you to leave.
- Suspicious links: Links are a good way to lead a victim away from the relative safety of their phone’s internal environment to the Wild West of the internet. If you must click on a link, remain cautious and inspect the URL closely.
If you’ve identified something suspicious, take action to block ads immediately.
PRO TIP: Even if you don't find these ads annoying, you should still block them for your own safety. Pop-ups can be used by hackers to deliver malware.
How to stop pop-up ads on Android
Shutting down your Android phone's pop-ups will depend entirely on what type of pop-ups you’re getting. Browser pop-ups can be stopped with your browser settings and a third-party app, while with home screen pop-ups, you will need to adjust your Android settings or get a suitable third-party app as well.
How to stop pop-up ads on the Android home screen
Unfortunately, most Android devices and OS versions do not have a universal setting to block pop-up ads on your home screen (you can disable lock screen notifications). Whatever your end goal is, you will need to identify the app creating the pop-ups or notifications on your Android phone. Once you have done so:
- Adjust your app’s settings: It could be that your legitimate app is sending those pop-ups or notifications in good faith. If so, your app should include a toggle to turn its pop-ups and notifications off. Finding them will depend on your specific app, but even if it doesn’t include such a toggle, there is another way.
- Restrict app system permissions: Android also has an Apps tab under your system settings where you can let the Android system adjust apps’ permissions. You can use this function to shut off notifications and restrict other permissions.
- Remove the offending app: If the app isn’t worth the trouble or it’s launching malicious pop-ups, you’re best off removing it completely. If it’s truly a malicious app, start up your phone in Safe Mode to make sure you can remove it without interference.
How to stop pop-up ads on your Android browser
Most popular Android browsers will have settings that let you restrict or completely eliminate pop-ups. The instructions will depend on which browser you use, but start by searching the settings menu and you’re sure to find something that will help.
Third-party apps to block ads on Android
Third-party ad blockers available on the Google Play Store can give you a greater level of control over the ads you see and can provide all sorts of additional security and privacy features. These are great for restricting annoying ads and notifications and for keeping you secure as well.
- AdBlock Plus: This is a popular and reputable ad blocker that works well and can be used with or without rooting. We don’t recommend rooting, because doing this eliminates many protections that keep mobile users safe.
- NordVPN + Threat Protection + Private DNS: The NordVPN app has a feature called Threat Protection that scans incoming files for malicious malware and URLs. Use this VPN in combination with other ad blockers to help keep you safe from malicious attacks. Private DNS, on the other hand, ensures that malicious ads or links can’t launch DNS swapping attacks against you to steal your data. You can get the app from the Google Play Store or from our site.
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