A PUP is a potentially unwanted program that is often installed when other software is installed on the computer. Typically, a PUP serves as a marketing tool and often modifies browser settings or displays unwanted advertisements. The most common form of PUP is adware. PUP stands for potentially unwanted program.
Unlike Trojans, worms, Emotet, spyware or ransomware, the software does not get onto your computer through security holes or hacker attacks. Installation usually takes place with the user's consent. Most PUPs offer the user no added value; only a small number of additionally installed partner programs are actually used by the user.
Although PUPs themselves are usually harmless, they can still hinder use of the computer, slow it down and be annoying for the user. Therefore, with any software that you install on your computer, you should always be aware of which partner programs are also being downloaded. If you quickly click through an installation, you can easily overlook the fine print and agree to additional applications.
Often, even antivirus software will not prevent the installation of a PUP because, technically speaking, a PUP is not a malicious program. It is not malware because the PUP is not intended to cause any damage to the computer. This means that a PUP is not as dangerous as a virus or a Trojan, but you should still make sure that PUPs are not installed unintentionally. Why? Here are a few examples of what PUPs do to your computer:
The most common form of PUPs is advertising software, also known as adware. The best-known example is toolbars, also called button bars. Most users have probably installed a toolbar in their browser at some point. Most of the time this happens unintentionally because toolbars are not usually used. They almost always end up on a PC together with the installation of other free software.
Besides toolbars, there are other types of PUPs that can appear to be useful. Most of these are programs that perform a system check. In doing so, they detect small errors in the system and release temporary files for deletion. To actually carry out the optimization, however, the user usually has to upgrade to a paid product first.
This practice is not illegal, but it is extremely questionable and, above all, annoying. If you do not want to use the paid version of the product, the tool can be uninstalled immediately, as it offers no benefit.
To detect a PUP, it is first necessary to categorize potentially unwanted programs. To determine if an application is a PUP, security engineers examine lists of incorrect behaviors. If one or more of these behaviors is found in various programs, they are classified as PUPs.
PUP criteria include web violations such as altered search results, download violations or bookmark entries, as well as advertising no-gos such as intrusive pop-ups. There are also some PUP criteria when installing software, such as pre-filled checkboxes or recommendations to select a large number of additional options.
Potentially unwanted applications are usually installed unintentionally as an additional partner program. However, since PUPs are not persistent viruses, uninstalling them is comparatively easy, albeit time-consuming. You can usually uninstall PUPs without much effort or external help.
On Windows 10 PCs, open the Control Panel and then select the Programs category. You will now see a list of all installed programs. Select the program that you want to uninstall and then click the Uninstall button in the top bar. Follow the uninstall instructions to fully remove the software from your computer.
For Apple PCs the uninstall process is slightly different. To remove software that was not installed via the Mac App Store, open the Finder and select the name of your MacBook or Mac from the left-hand menu bar. Then you need to open the computer's internal hard drive. By default, this is marked as Macintosh HD.
In the Applications subfolder you will find all installed programs. Now simply drag and drop the desired program into the trash bin, which is located in the Dock. This will fully uninstall the desired software. To free the storage space, click the trash bin with two fingers and then select "Empty Trash."
Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) are not technically considered malware, but they can still cause some problems if they infect your computer. PUPs are annoying, time-consuming and very RAM-hungry. This means that they require a lot of memory and therefore slow down your PC. Additional security measures can help protect you from PUPs. Ultimately, however, the best protection against PUPs is to be vigilant when installing free software. Read the installation dialogs carefully and do not choose the quick or standard installation option. Make sure that you uncheck additional boxes to avoid installing unnecessary programs.
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