What are potentially unwanted applications and programs?

PUAs and PUPs are unwanted software programs installed onto your computer operating system, browser or mobile device without you being fully aware that it’s happening. Once on your computer or phone, they deliver annoying functions that are advantageous for the developer who wants them there but not necessarily for you.

Are potentially unwanted programs dangerous?

Some are, and some aren’t. Many are designed to sneak into your system and share your information with third parties who will use it how they please. At times, their use of your data will have no serious ill-effect on you, yet, at others, it can be devastating.What we can tell you, though, is that they’re designed for compromising your privacy and weakening your computer’s security. In an age where privacy and data are so important (you can’t turn a corner without seeing something about GDPR anymore), these programs are operating directly against the system that’s trying to protect us.

Are potentially unwanted programs illegal?

There are plenty of grey areas when it comes to the legality of PUAs and PUPs. However, most of the time, the victim will have agreed to their installation by not reading the small print in the End User License Agreement(EULA) and hitting the Agree button for a bundle install where the PUP software is concealed.However, plenty of the actions performed by the worse PUP programs are.The programs that plant spyware designed to track your activities, lift payment information and bank access details are the most dangerous and quite obviously against the law.

Is PUP a virus?

A virus is predominantly a dangerous piece of software or code that spreads rapidly around the Internet without our awareness. Because we agree to install PUP and PUA software, they don’t quite fit the term; however, they’re still typically referred to as a type of virus.

Is a PUP malware?

Not in the traditional context of the word; not all PUPs and PUAs are considered malicious; some are considered useful to the users that installed them. Labeling PUP as malware when it arrives on your machine by entirely legal means would open up lawsuits against publishers, creators, and download sites all over the world.

Unwanted applications and packages, and similar threats, are also known by the following names:

  • Potentially unwanted applications (PUA)
  • Potentially unwanted programs (PUP)
  • Potentially unwanted software (PUS)
  • Unwanted applications (UA)
  • Unwanted programs (UP)
  • Potentially unwanted modifications (PUM)

Why are PUPs and PUAs installed on my computer?

Those who create such programs are always looking for new and illicit ways to make money. There are plenty of people who want to access your personal information. It isn’t just your credit card and bank details they’re looking for—to steal directly from you—but also to access the data defined by your behaviour, to sell you more of the things you encounter during your daily browsing habits.

How do PUAs and PUPs get into my computer?

The typical method of sneaking PUA malware onto a computer is to include it in a software bundle or package, so the user doesn’t spot that they’re allowing an installation of a program they really don’t want or need.

Many of these troublesome programs bundle with legitimate software installations. These free bundles are often repackaged by an agent looking for ways to get their suspect software installed, instead of by the genuine creator or supplier. By adding their less-than-favourable software in with an application you genuinely need, it’s an easy route for them into your data.

What are the most common types of PUA and PUP software?

  1. Adware
    Adware introduces the user masses of additional advertisements (as the name suggests) via all kinds of annoying means. Typically, they’re presented in pop-up ads, but they’ll also redirect you to a multitude of web pages where you have no real interest. While many adware packages aren’t necessarily damaging to your PC, home computer, or device, they’re incredibly frustrating. Others, however, contain spyware and depending on the access they provide to your data, matters can end in a very different situation.
  2. Browser hijacker
    Another method of presenting unwanted advertising is via browser hijacking. This method places ads directly within your browser or interacts with your web browser to send you to all kinds of websites you had no intention of visiting. Alternatively, the browser may send you to web pages that automatically download further malware to your machine.
  3. Spyware
    It’s horrifying to think that there are programs that slip so easily onto our computers and mobile devices that monitor how we behave online and can lift passwords, payment card information while recording our keystrokes. Spyware manages all of those behaviors, making it one of the most dangerous applications to land on our machines.
  4. Fraudulent dialer
    In the good old days of Internet dial-up, fraudsters would target computer modems to log users onto premium high-cost phone numbers, running up massive costs without knowing it was happening.
    Fortunately, those days are long gone, but in their place, and quite similarly, Android devices are often targeted by malware using premium SMS services. These malware and app options rack up the same vast charges users once faced in the dial-up days.

How do I prevent PUP malware and software from entering my computer?

Install PUA spotting antivirus software

One way to prevent infection is to install legitimate antivirus software designed to recognise PUA and PUP installs and quarantine them before they get past the front door.

Check the EULAs thoroughly

Alternatively, you can trawl through the End User License Agreements(EULAs) of every install you activate. Traditionally, the terms are lengthy and vast and would take forever to read through, so we’ve become accustomed to ignoring them and skipping straight to the Agree button of the download agreement.

Read the install wizard instructions carefully

Another place you could spot the crafty PUP and PUA applications sneaking in is via the installation wizard. Where the dialogue features a typical installation option, the dodgy software is usually part of that package. A custom install should show you precisely what you’re installing with options to exclude the items you don’t want.

How do I get rid of potentially unwanted programs?

Once more, using software built to detect and delete viruses, malware, adware, PUPs, PUAs, and more is one of your best bets.

You could find much of the suspect software installed as apps, plug-ins, and add-ons to web browsers and in your operating system.

Checking program lists and accessing the advanced settings in your web browsers will often highlight the problem packages.

At times, a browser or program refresh will work; at others, a complete reinstall might be the only option left to remove the virus or malware, starting over with a clean system.