Windows 10 now allows you to disable or enable protection against Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) also known as Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP) using Windows Security. This setting is disabled by default in Windows 10 2004 and later.
Potential Unwanted Applications (PUA or PUP) is a threat classification based on reputation and research-driven identification. They are typically Crapware or Bundleware, and such software that you really do not want on your system.
You should know that PUP or PUA is not a virus or ransomware, but they are marked as Unwanted because they can be annoying. The characteristic behavior of PUA is as follows:
- Offer other software as an advertising bundle
- Install software without your consent
- Actively tries to evade detection by security products or differently behave when they find a security software guarding the Windows 10 PC.
Potentially Unwanted Applications protection in Windows 10
Windows Security has Reputation-based protection that can help protect your PC from potentially unwanted applications. To turn on or off Potentially Unwanted Applications protection in Windows 10:
- Using the Search, open Windows Security
- Select App & browser control
- Locate Reputation-based protection settings.
- Toggle On or Off Potentially unwanted app blocking switch
- Select if you want to Block apps, Block downloads, or both.
Once you have done this, your Windows 10 computer will be protected against Potentially Unwanted Application download.
PUA protection will quarantine the PUP file and prevent them from running if it meets one of the following conditions:
- The file is being scanned from the browser
- The file has Mark of the Web set
- The file is in the %downloads% folder
- Or if the file in the %temp% folder.
How is PUA Protection different from SmartScreen
While it may sound that they are similar, but they aren’t. While SmartScreen protects from malicious sites and downloads, PUA blocks downloads of low reputation apps that might cause unexpected behaviors. The former is more concerned about sites, ransomware, virus while the later wants to prevent the downloads instantly.
You can also turn on or off PUP Protection using Group Policy, Registry, or PowerShell in Windows 10.
This post will show you how to enable Potentially Unwanted Application protection in the Edge browser.
Related read: What is Potentially Unwanted Modification (PUM)? Prevention, Identification, Removal.