If I have internet access, sporadically I see pop-up ads like the one below. I am trying to find the Android app causing them, but the recent button is not showing any app. Any tool I can use to find and remove the adware? I installed Kaspersky and it could not find the adware.

Android pop image

  • maybe check /proc directory Jun 3, 2017 at 5:58

2 Answers 2


Two possibilities:

  1. A background process (not an app, but started by an app) that is triggering ads. In this case you may not see the app itself in recent / running apps.
  2. More likely, your ISP is triggering the ads. Airtel is known to have done this on and off (I've experienced it first hand), targeting specific circles and specific browsers. In my case, switching browsers solved it for sometime. If the ads are popping up when you're not browsing, you're situation is probably a bit different.
  • Does an app require administrator permission to randomly display ads anywhere on the screen?
    – defalt
    Jul 5, 2017 at 8:34
  • 1
    @defalt No, Android permissions model allows any app / process to draw in foreground without administrator / device administration rights. This particular issue - of inserting ads that appear to be a part of a webpage is a more insiduous one. The ISP modifies the response (e.g., the html file being served) from the webserver without the permission of either party (the web server and the client browser). Aside: There are some legitimate applications of this situation - e.g., CloudFlare where the webserver permits this to enhance its security.
    – Sas3
    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:27

The majority of adware on the phone is designed to work around any administrative privileges. It does that by either, not needing admin rights to show certain information on the screen or attaching itself to an existing app that has permissions. If it is sophisticated or just merely annoying depends on the app.

My first advice would be to check your currently running processes and see if there is anything suspicious. If there is, attempt to kill the process and look if it might be tied to another app. After killing or uninstalling the apps, restart your phone and check if the problem persists. If it does, try to install a different anti-virus solution or see if now Kaspersky detects the issue.

If the problem persists, you can try tracking the app files or the process files that launch the said adware. I use ES Explorer for file viewing on the phone, but other alternatives should work just as good. (Unfortunately, if your phone is not rooted, there is a low chance that the files will be in a standard .apk format). Most likely the install might be named as a rogue an innocent app, like a game or utility app. See if you don't recognize something and try removing the files manually.

Lastly, if that doesn't help, you could try considering a factory reset, it is quite annoying and unfortunate, but it usually solves the issues.

Good luck! Hope this helps.

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