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ASAP Computers – How to avoid Potentially Unwanted Programs Pt1

What is a Potentially Unwanted Program/Application? (PUP/PUA)

“A potentially unwanted application is a program that contains adware, installs toolbars or has other unclear objectives.”  ~ESET

The most common way to infect your computer with a PUP is through software-wrapping. What is a software-wrapper you ask?

“A software wrapper is a special type of application modification that is used by most file-hosting websites. It is a third-party tool that installs the program you intended to download but adds additional software, such as toolbars or adware. The additional software may also make changes to your web browser’s home page and search settings. Also, file-hosting websites often do not notify the software vendor or download recipient that modifications have been made and do not easily allow opting out of modification.” ~ESET

In a perfect world, when we have our eyes set on a free piece of software that will make our lives easier the download and installation of the software would be seamless and without regret.

However, in reality, when we search to download something our results are often skewed with false links and a seemingly endless barrage of “other” websites hosting or mimicking the software you want. Below is a perfect example:

PUP links

Notice the above user was just looking to download Adobe reader. You can see the amount of false links at the top of the results listing, despite not being the official vendor of adobe products. These websites can host all types of infections not just PUPs/PUAs

How do I avoid these infections?

Now that you know what PUPs/PUA’s are you can stop them. Remeber you are the first line of defense. The best protection is prevention, and if you are like me and wiz by the installer prompt you will never know if you infected yourself or not. Take your time and try and read the fine print, often software-wrappers give you the option to opt out of installing PUPs like on the picture below.

PUP Selection

Your second line of defense is a good Anti-virus. Many free AV software like Avira, Avast, BitDefender offer ways to prevent/protect against PUP software.

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