Potentially Unwanted Application

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) refer to programs installed in a mobile device or a computer that may pose high risk or have untoward impact on user security and/or privacy. It may also contribute in consuming computing resources. It may be unwanted by the user even if it is installed with users’ consent. The impact the application causes may either inadvertently or simply be a part of its design. PUAs are created by legitimate or illegitimate software publishers.

PUAs may behave like the following:

  • Bundling – There are programs that, when installed in a device or a computer, installs other programs (bundled software) that users may not want. The primary program that installed the additional programs often trick users during the installation process with options that allow the installation of the bundled software. Applications like these may also come bundled with other grayware.
  • Advertising – displays excessive advertisements, causing interruption or annoyance to users.
  • Information collection – programs that collect information without users' consent.
  • Other unwanted behavior:
    • Exaggerated or bogus notifications
    • Lack of control for users
    • Runs unwanted processes more programs that consume computing resources
    • Provides unconventional way of uninstalling the program

We do note that for some cases, the user may find the application useful enough that they are willing to endure its effects. As such, we define these applications as potentially unwanted.