I was checking out some news about the latest Marvel movie (Black Panther! Can’t wait!) on a legitimate entertainment site when I was hit with the pop-up ad below. At first glance, it looks like a dire warning that my phone has some type of virus. With all the news about bad Android apps and that Spectre/Meltdown security flaw, a warning like this can be alarming.
The pop-up warns that your system has been affected by, not one, but four viruses. It even goes so far as to say that it is specifically 28.1% damaged. And offers instructions that require you to download a particular app. There’s even a handy REPAIR FAST NOW button.
What they are counting on is a panic response. You’re going to see the warning, hit that button and download their app. If you stopped and took a breath, you’d see some problems with the English syntax. (four virus, keep check your battery)
And I promise you, no software is going to give you a precise number for the damage to your phone. It doesn’t work that way. If you were to tap that big, blue button, here’ what you’d see. An app called Android Cleaner in the Google Play store.
Once installed, apps like these will feed a steady stream of pop-ads. Often times showing them on your lock screen. Generally, they’ll cause you to burn more battery power because they are always on. Is this app a legitimate junk cleaner? Maybe. But I have grave suspicions about a product that uses misleading pop-ups to get you to download. Now, I don’t know that the app itself is behind the misleading app. It’s possible that they offer a fee for referrals and a third party is using the misleading add to collect the referral fee. But still, there’s nothing wrong with your phone here. That ad itself is a big, fat scam.
So remember my advice to always take a minute to take a deep breath when you see something like this that provokes a panic response. Don’t just tap that button. Take a moment to read, maybe a few more moments to research.