What to Do When You See a Virus Warning Pop-Up on Android

This is how you remove it and stop it from happening again

Image of a man protecting his Android with Antivirus software

 SARINYAPINNGAM\Getty Images

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to protect your Android from viruses, you may eventually see a virus warning pop-up on your Android device. Unfortunately, most of the time when you really have a virus on your Android device, you won't see any warnings unless you're running antivirus software.

The Virus Warning Pop-Up on Android

In most cases, Android users only see a fake virus warning pop-up when they're using the web browser to visit a malicious website.

The pop-up window warns you that your Android is infected with a virus, and invites you to tap a button to run a scan and remove the software from your device.

Screenshot of a sample Android virus popup

The most important thing you can do is not tap any button on the website.

If the virus warning pop-up on your Android appeared outside of the web browser, it's possible that the browser itself was infected with a malicious add-on which needs to be removed.

The good news is the your Android likely isn't infected by any virus yet, so long as you haven't tapped any button on the website.

Removing a Fake Virus Warning Pop-Up on Android

Removing the malicious browser code that launched the pop-up window is easy.

  1. It's possible that you won't be able to close the antivirus pop-up window. Don't worry about that for now, just close all of the browser windows that you can.

  2. Go to your Android Settings and tap to open Apps.

    Screenshot of selecting Apps in Android settings.
  3. Next, scroll down to the browser that you were using just before you saw the fake virus warning pop-up. Tap that app to open its settings.

    Screenshot of Android Apps in Settings.
  4. You'll see two buttons at the top of the App window. Select Force Stop to force the browser application to stop running.

    Screenshot of forcing an application to stop on Android.
  5. You may see a warning pop-up that if you force stop the application it'll misbehave. This won't be a concern in this case. Just select the OK button.

    Screenshot of Force Stop warning on Android.
  6. Back on the App window, scroll down until you see the Clear Cache button, and tap it.

    Screenshot of selecting Clear Cach in a browser app screen on Android
  7. Once the cache is fully cleared, you'll see the memory usage on the right drop to 0 MB.

    Screenshot of a cleared browser cache on Android.
  8. Now that you've stopped the browser and cleared the cache, the fake virus pop-up window should be gone.

Block Pop-Ups in Your Android Browser

Even though you've shut down the fake virus pop-up window, there may still be settings in your browser that will allow the fake virus pop-up to appear again.

Take the following steps to prevent this from happening again.

These instructions assume you're using the mobile Chrome Browser.

  1. Tap the arrow at the upper right of the Chrome browser window. If you see that a new chrome update is available, select Update Chrome to initiate the update. This will ensure you have the latest version, along with all of the latest security patches.

    Screenshot of updating the mobile Chrome browser.
  2. Back in the Chrome menu, scroll down and tap Settings.

    Screenshot of selecting Chrome settings
  3. In the Settings menu, scroll down and tap Site settings.

    Screenshot of selecting Site settings in the Chrome settings menu.
  4. In the Site settings menu, scroll down to Pop-ups and redirects and tap it.

    Screenshot of Notifications in Site settings.
  5. In the Pop-ups and redirects window, disable the selector so that the setting is set to Block sites from showing pop-ups and redirects (recommended).

    Screenshot of disabling Pop-ups and redirects in Chrome for Android.
  6. Go back to the Site settings window, and scroll down to Ads. Tap it to open the Ads window.

    Screenshot of selecting Ads in the Site settings window.
  7. In the Ads window, disable the selector so that the setting is set to Block ads on sites that show intrusive or misleading ads.

    Screenshot of disabling intrusive ads in Chrome for Android.
  8. Back in the Site settings window, scroll down to Automatic downloads and tap it.

    Screenshot of opening the Automatic downloads window.
  9. In the Automatic downloads window, enable the selector so that the setting is Ask first.

    Screenshot of the Automatic downloads setting in Chrome for Android.

Once you've finished updating all of these settings, your browser will be better protected from malicious websites that attempt to launch the fake virus warning pop-up on your Android.

Removing and Disabling Android Viruses

If you've never rooted your Android, the odds of getting a virus are very low. However it is always possible, and it could be a virus or some other form of malware that caused the fake virus warning pop-up.

Follow the steps below to ensure your Android is clean of any malware.

  1. Go into your Android Settings, tap Apps, and scroll down the list of apps. Uninstall any apps that you don't recognize or that you've recently installed. To uninstall, just tap the app and select Uninstall.

  2. Install the Malwarebytes app from Google Play. Once it's installed, update the database and run a full system scan on your Android. If Malwarebytes finds malware, have it clean the virus from your device.

    Screenshot of the Malwarebytes app
  3. Install CCleaner from Google Play. Follow the instructions to provide the app with required permissions. Then select Run the scan to run a full scan, select Start Cleaning and select Finish Cleaning to clean all junk files from your Android.

    Screenshot of the CCleaner app

Once you've completed the steps above, your Android should be clean of any malware that may have caused the fake virus warning pop-up on your Android.