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How to fix Galaxy S8 that has persistent popups [Android malware troubleshooting guide ]

Malicious software or malware is a reality many Android users are not aware of. A lot of smartphone owners generally think of viruses as only applicable to computers. The thing is, even low-end smartphones nowadays are tiny computers in their own right and hence, can also be infected by viruses. Today’s topic centers around troubleshooting malware in #GalaxyS8 devices. We try to be as general in our suggestions below so any Android user can follow our suggestions in their own non-S8 device. We hope you’ll find this article helpful.

If you are looking for solutions to your own #Android issue, you can contact us by using the link provided at the bottom of this page.

When describing your issue, please be as detailed as possible so we can easily pinpoint a relevant solution. If you can, kindly include the exact error messages you are getting to give us an idea where to start. If you have already tried some troubleshooting steps before emailing us, make sure to mention them so we can skip them in our answers.


Problem sent by one of the members of our community:

For about 2 or 3 weeks now, I have been getting ads that keep popping up on my screen. At all times. When I unlock it or open my camera or any app. It is getting irritating to have to constantly close them.

Also my ringer volume. I’ll have it set to on or vibrate and it constantly turns it off. I have missed important phone calls because my phone is turning the ringer off. I never have it off. It is on or vibrate. I’ll turn it on and within a few minutes it is back off. Not sure what to do. — Ashley Ney

Unwanted popups In Android

Malware, commonly called viruses, in Android is growing leaps and bounds every year. It’s no wonder that more and more devices are infected without even the user knowing it. Normally, virus developers would want to leave no traces of their nefarious activities behind so making their products as stealthy as possible is their main aim. However, there are other app writers who can also profit from apps that shows obvious indications of malware infection. If you are constantly getting redirected to a download page of an app in Google Play Store, or a popup keeps showing randomly whether you’re using your phone actively or not, that’s a clear sign that your phone is infected with a malware. The aim of the app developer in this case is to monitize his/her app by pushing ads or redirecting a device to a Play Store app so the user will be forced to install it, which will then translate to monetary gain. In order to increase their bottom lines, advertising companies may employ aggressive approaches by forcing ads more often. Some of such apps can force ads in the notification bar, or booby trapping other apps to automatically display ads invasively. Other than these, apps of these nature also tend to steal personal information of the user, device details, as well as user browsing habits.

The usual types of malware-laden apps include:

  • apps that can personalize phones
  • entertainment apps
  • gaming apps

Your other issue about the ringer volume constantly getting turned off may also be caused by a bad app you’ve installed. If you are fond of apps that can change the appearance of your device like changing wallpapers, themes, sound schemes, etc., one of them must be bad. Apps that can personalize phone settings are usually permitted to do other tasks that are usually off limits for most apps so a developer can do other things after their product has been installed. For example, a popular wallpaper app years ago was coded to not only allow a user to add a new wallpaper to his/her phone but also to steal personal information and device information like the unique device ID.

Some malicious apps can mimic the looks of legitimate apps to fool unsuspecting users. Other bad apps can initially be legitimate apps when you first install them but once you update, a new malware is installed as well.

How to troubleshoot your S8 to fix malware infection

Keep in mind that malware developers can be very creative when it comes to apps. They will do out-of-the-box tricks to get their apps installed. Today’s Android malware are spread by other apps so if you’re not careful with what stuff you install, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll get your phone infected.

Uninstall the bad app

This is the first thing that you must do. It’s the most direct way of attacking the problem. This can only be effective though if you’ve identified the app prior to noticing the signs of malware infection. If you happen to remember the last app you installed before noticing the popups, uninstall that app first and see what happens. If the popups stop and the phone appears to work fine again, with the ringer volume being back to normal, then you probably have removed the culprit.

If you can’t remember what’s the last app you installed, we suggest that you uninstall all recently installed apps.

Install antivirus apps

If the phone continues to show signs of being infected and popups are still present, consider installing trustworthy antivirus apps from Google Play Store. (Some fake antivirus apps may be available too so be very picky about this). There are many good antivirus apps that you can download for free. Try as many as possible to ensure that you use different systems in scanning your device. Antivirus apps like AVG AntiVirus FREE for Android Security 2017, Avast Mobile Security – Antivirus & AppLock, Bitdefender Antivirus Free, are some examples. You can explore as many as possible.

IMPORTANT: Never install two antivirus apps in your phone at the same time. Make sure to uninstall one after testing it to avoid causing problems. Having more than one antivirus apps in a system can cause conflicts and can potentially lead to problems than solutions.

Perform a factory reset

This drastic solution may be necessary should the symptoms of malware infection persists. Factory reset basically returns all software settings to their defaults and erase apps and user data. It’s an efficient way to quickly remove problems and glitches. Before you do it, be sure to create a backup of your personal files to avoid losing them.

There are two ways to perform a factory reset in Android. One is via Settings, and the other is by booting to Recovery Mode. Here are the steps on how to do each of them:

How to factory reset your Galaxy S8 via Settings

  1. Back up data on the internal memory. If you have signed into a Google account on the device, you have activated Anti-theft and will need your Google credentials to finish the Master reset.
  2. From the Home screen, swipe up on an empty spot to open the Apps tray.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Cloud and accounts.
  5. Tap Backup and restore.
  6. If desired, tap Back up my data to move the slider to ON or OFF.
  7. If desired, tap Restore to move the slider to ON or OFF.
  8. Tap the back button to the Settings menu and tap General Management > Reset > Factory data reset.
  9. Tap Reset device.
  10. If you have screen lock turned on, enter your credentials.
  11. Tap Continue.
  12. Tap Delete all.

How to factory reset your Galaxy S8 via Recovery Mode [also known as Master reset]

  1. Back up data on the internal memory. If you have signed into a Google account on the device, you have activated Anti-theft and will need your Google credentials to finish the Master reset.
  2. Turn off the device.
  3. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Bixby key, then press and hold the Power key.
  4. When the Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  5. Press the Volume down key several times to highlight “wipe data / factory reset.
  6. Press Power button to select.
  7. Press the Volume down key until ‘Yes — delete all user data’ is highlighted.
  8. Press Power button to select and start the master reset.
  9. When the master reset is complete, “Reboot system now” is highlighted.
  10. Press the Power key to restart the device.

Remember, almost all malware are spread by apps. If the symptoms occur after readding your apps, you’re not doing a good job in screening your apps properly. This means that you’re merely re-introducing the same bad app after a factory reset.

Reflash the firmware [optional]

Reflashing the firmware can achieve the same level of effectiveness as factory reset. If you’ve already done it before, it’s up to you if you’ll do it instead of factory reset. It’s obviously more complicated and riskier so don’t even attempt it if you are not sure what to do.

We only recommend this option for more Android-savvy users.

How to avoid bad apps in the future

Bear in mind that there’s no amount of antivirus apps that can substitute vigilance. When it comes to apps, playing it safe is the best approach towards prevention of malware infection.

Download apps from trusted sites only

Getting apps from legitimate app stores is one easy way to minimize malware infection. Sites like Google Play Store, Samsung, Amazon, and other major companies that hosts apps like your carrier have security practices in place to deter malware writers from using their service. Google Play Store for instance monitor and scan apps. On some occasions, malicious apps can still evade their security and scans so it still falls on you to be vigilant on what app to add.

Don’t install pirated or cracked apps

Apps hosted in third party app stores are sometimes copies of original ones and may contain some malicious codes that can allow installation of more bad apps in the future. In fact, most Android infection nowadays come from cracked or pirated apps as more cybercriminals use them to spread viruses. Avoid third party download sites as much as possible. To remind yourself not to install apps from possible third party sources, make sure to disable Unknown sources option under Settings>Lock screen and security. Turning this option off should prevent the phone from downloading apps from non-Google or non-Samsung sites.

Be suspicious

When it comes to protecting your personal information and preventing malware infection in today’s day and age, a suspicious mindset will certainly help. Don’t just take an app at face value. Before you install an unfamiliar app like a game, be sure to check the reviews of other users and run a Google search for it. If it’s a bad app, other users have most likely posted negative reviews about it somewhere.

Make sure app developer can be trusted

As mentioned above, other apps can pose as legitimate applications initially. Once you update them, the new version may include a backdoor that can let other bad apps to come in. Once that occurs, your personal information are fair game. A lot of malware are still designed to work stealthily in order to gather enough information that can benefit the developer. That’s why it’s very important that you only install products from app makers that are known to value privacy and security. Being adventurous does not always pay. Remember, once your personal information has been stolen, there’s no way to get them back.

The less app, the better

Apps are the lifeblood of smartphones. Without them, we’re back to using simple dumb phones that only allows us to call, text, and occasionally play games. Boring isn’t it?

Well, yeah. It’s definitely boring if we can’t harness the full potential of a powerful hardware as like an Galaxy S8 but important and tempting they can be, apps can also be the source of serious security and privacy issues. If you want to take a walk on the wild side, make sure that you do the necessary precautions as mentioned above.

In general, the fewer the apps you install, the better it is for you. Not only will it lessen the risks of malware infection but it can also make it easier on the system, the battery in particular, in the long run. It also minimizes the chances of bugs and glitches from developing.

Stick to a few needed apps as possible. Unless you absolutely have no life except spending all your time using your phone, better stay away from unnecessary apps.

 


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If you are one of the users who encounters a problem with your device, let us know. We offer solutions for Android-related problems for free so if you have an issue with your Android device, simply fill in the short questionnaire in this link and we will try to publish our answers in the next posts. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem.

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