Cell Phones

How to get rid of ads that suddenly started showing up.

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  • Jul 28th, 2018 3:51 pm
[OP]
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Mar 28, 2005
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How to get rid of ads that suddenly started showing up.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4.

Everything worked fine until a few weeks ago.
I decided I needed WhatsApp and a compass app.
So I downloaded those.
Seems to me one of these started putting random ads on my phone.
I assumed it was one of the compass apps since WhatsApp is not supposed to have any ads.
I uninstalled both compass apps but I still get full screen ads.

Is there any way to find out how these ads get sent to my phone so I can turn them off?
I had the phone for at least 5 years, never had an issue with ads before.
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Were the compass apps installed via the play store? If not, there's a good chance that one of them installed some adware. If they were from the play store, it's *possible* that one did that still, but seems unlikely as Google is pretty good at catching that kind of thing. You could check your installed apps, to see if there's anything obvious in there that would be the culprit, but there's also tons of Samsung crapware (not to mention tons of android-specific services) on your phone so trying to find which one might be the ad one isn't as simple as removing any apps that you don't recognize.

You could also try one of the free anti-virus packages from the play store. If you've got some adware installed, one of those should theoretically catch it. I believe Avast is free.
[OP]
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Thanks for the reply.
The compass apps did come from the play store.
I just checked the installed apps and it seems to me, from the names and listings, that only WhatsApp is installed in addition to all the Samsung apps.
I'll try an anti-virus package to see if that finds anything - those ads are just too annoying.
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Nobody gives away apps without some sort of remuneration. Either buy the app or use the add supported one. Pick your poison.
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[OP]
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will888 wrote: Nobody gives away apps without some sort of remuneration. Either buy the app or use the add supported one. Pick your poison.
Everything I read so far states that WhatsApp does not place ads on one's cell phone.
Is that not true?

I took the compass apps off, but if I remember correctly, the ones I picked claim to be ad-free as well.
I have to go back and double check.

But the problem is that ads do appear now and I'm trying to find a way to figure out where they come from so that I can decide what to do about it.
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will888 wrote: Nobody gives away apps without some sort of remuneration. Either buy the app or use the add supported one. Pick your poison.
I don't think OP was complaining about ads within the app - it sounds like a malware issue where fullscreen ads are popping up even when not in an app.
[OP]
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Yes - that is the issue.

I'm downloading malwarebytes now to see what I finds.
[OP]
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Turns out malwarebytes thinks everything is clean.

I'll wait to see if the ads pop up again before I try another AV app
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wearysky wrote: I don't think OP was complaining about ads within the app - it sounds like a malware issue where fullscreen ads are popping up even when not in an app.
Factory reset and stop installing flashlight apps that need internet to shine brighter.
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will888 wrote: Factory reset and stop installing flashlight apps that need internet to shine brighter.
Well, presumably OP installed the compass apps from the Play store, trusting that they had vetted the apps in there. And despite all of Google's attempts, malware often slips through the cracks
[OP]
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All the apps were installed from the play store - I mention that in my second post, post #3

And a factory reset is going to be my very last option.

Other than the apps that came with the phone originally, I have only installed a few compass apps and WhatsApp, nothing else - so I would think it can't be that difficult to figure out where the ads come from.
I got one again last night.
Malwarebytes found nothing - the only app still installed is WhatsApp so I may have to take that off to see it it is responsible for the ads.
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krs wrote: All the apps were installed from the play store - I mention that in my second post, post #3

And a factory reset is going to be my very last option.

Other than the apps that came with the phone originally, I have only installed a few compass apps and WhatsApp, nothing else - so I would think it can't be that difficult to figure out where the ads come from.
I got one again last night.
Malwarebytes found nothing - the only app still installed is WhatsApp so I may have to take that off to see it it is responsible for the ads.
I *highly* doubt that WhatsApp is the culprit. You might want to try a different malware scanning app, too. Much as I hate to say it, whatever insidious malware you've gotten may just be good enough at hiding from the scanners that a factory reset is the only option.
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wearysky wrote: Well, presumably OP installed the compass apps from the Play store, trusting that they had vetted the apps in there. And despite all of Google's attempts, malware often slips through the cracks
Very early on, I found utility type apps to be the worst. They would ask for every permission available, none of which apply to the functions on the app.
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Make sure there's no 3rd-party flashlight app. Those are notorious for adware
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will888 wrote: Very early on, I found utility type apps to be the worst. They would ask for every permission available, none of which apply to the functions on the app.
Well, in the early Android days, developers just didn't bother implementing granular permissions at all. They just left it at the default "request all" rather than determine what actual permissions they needed. Speaking as a sometimes-lazy dev myself, I can understand that temptation. Especially if you're just throwing a slapdash flashlight app together to try to cash in. I like the current iterations of Android though, that will tell you what permissions an app looks for up front, but don't actually grant those permissions until the app needs to use them (and it prompts you for permission to grant it, first).
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The definition of Android malware is sometimes a little murky. A shady app could very well start on boot, run in the background, displays ads and justify its actions as legitimate compensation for the use of their app. While that may make them a little unscrupulous, they still may be playing by the rules and that may not make them true malware in the classic sense. Locating the offending app and deleting it should solve the problem. An app that attempts to circumnavigate the bounds of what Android allows and prevent deletion is in a different category. Hopefully we're only dealing with the first and not the second.

Maybe try something like this: https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... s.detector

It'll scan your installed apps and report which ones have embedded advertising libraries. Even apps that claim to be ad free sometime still have them. Be forwarded though, lots and lots of apps have them, even well-known and legitimate apps. It won't tell you which app is the offender, but it should help you narrow down which ones could be responsible.

Checking to see what apps start on boot may also help narrow things down.

And if you want to prevent ads in the future, try and find utility apps that don't use the “full network access” permission. Easier said than done though.
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Another trick that may work is to open your recent apps / task switcher when the ad appears and see if it shows an app in that list.
[OP]
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Mar 28, 2005
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Wow!

Great information everyone - thank-you

I'll try the ad detector and the recenttask switcher.

One question - If in the end I need to do a factory reset and if I back up everything before that, would the back up save absolutely everything and then allow me to bring the phone back to its current state?
Like all saved text messages, passwords etc.?

I'm not familiar with android backups and restore capabilities, but I have had my share of surprises when it comes to that on other devices.
In some cases, like firefox on a computer, a version update often doesn't even keep passwords

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