Potentially Unwanted Application

Potentially unwanted application or applications (PUAs), classified as grayware, refer to applications 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. Most often than not, PUAs do not explicitly and completely state their functions and purpose. 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 applications that, when installed in a device or a computer, installs other applications (bundled software) that users may not want. The primary application that installed the additional applications 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 – applications that collect information without users' consent.
  • Other unwanted behavior:
    • Exaggerated or bogus notifications
    • Lack of control for users
    • Runs unwanted processes or applications that consume computing resources
    • Provides unconventional way of uninstalling the application

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.