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Tips to identify and remove malicious Android adware apps

The plethora of apps on the Google Play Store can unfortunately expose your Android devices to malicious programs, specifically adware. These intrusive applications not only bombard users with unwanted advertisements, but they also pose a security risk by potentially accessing, using, and sharing confidential information such as credit card details. This guide equips you with the knowledge to locate and eliminate adware from your Android device.

What is adware?

Adware, short for advertising-supported software, is a program that displays unwanted ads on your device. It often operates by monitoring your browsing activity, allowing it to constantly pepper you with targeted advertisements based on your online interests. To further illustrate the problem of adware, as of the second half of 2023, it constitutes over 50% of commonly detected forms of mobile malware worldwide.

How to tell if you have adware

Unfortunately, not all the indicators of adware are obvious. If you’re experiencing any of the following, your Android device might be infected with adware:

  • Unwanted ads: Ads popping up on your lock screen, notification panel, or even within other apps, provide the most apparent proof of adware presence.
  • Performance issues: Slow device performance, frequent app crashes, or sluggish browsing can indicate that adware is operating in the background on your device.
    Battery drain: Noticeably quicker battery drain than usual is also a sign that adware is active in the background.
  • Suspicious data usage: Unexpected spikes in your data usage can reveal adware communicating and exchanging data with third parties.
  • Unknown apps: If you see apps that you don’t remember downloading onto your device, then they have likely been installed by adware.
  • Browser changes: Some adware will switch your browser’s home page or default search engine without your knowledge.

How to remove adware

There are two main approaches to removing adware from your Android device: use an adware removal app or manually remove it.

Use adware removal software
Several reputable adware removal apps are available on the Google Play Store. However, to ensure you get one that can do the job properly, look for the following features:

 

  • URL monitoring: Alerts you about dangerous websites.
  • Suspicious app detection: Identifies potentially harmful apps beyond adware.
  • Automatic scanning and removal: Simplifies the process of removing adware.
  • Resource efficiency: Runs smoothly without impacting device performance.

Manual adware removal
If you prefer not to download an app, you can try to remove adware manually by following these steps:

  1. Reboot your device in Safe Mode. This disables all third-party apps, making it easier to identify the adware. Refer to your device’s manual or search online for specific instructions on entering Safe Mode for your model.
  2. Go to Settings > Apps. This will display a list of all installed applications.
  3. Look for suspicious apps. Adware often uses generic names such as “Update” or “Back-Up.”
  4. Uninstall or disable the suspicious apps. Tap on the app and select Uninstall. Be aware that pre-installed apps may not be uninstallable, but you can usually use the “Force Stop” or “Disable” options for them.

With either method, if you encounter issues with adware removal or are not confident carrying out the task yourself, you should contact a professional.

How to keep adware out

In addition to knowing how to identify and remove adware, you also need to know how to prevent adware from infiltrating your devices, saving you time and frustration.

  • Download apps only from trusted sources: Stick to the official Google Play Store for downloading apps. This will at least minimize the likelihood of encountering an adware application.
  • Be cautious of free offers: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid installing apps that promise unrealistic benefits.
  • Read app reviews: Look for user reviews about an app before downloading it.
  • Invest in a reliable security solution: Consider using an antivirus or security app that offers additional protection against adware and other cyberthreats.

Learn how to further protect your devices from adware and other cyberthreats by speaking with one of our experts. Contact us today.