Detecting Potential Unwanted Software

Potentially unwanted software is not as dangerous as Virus, Worm or Rootkit but it is still cause harm to you and your computing experience and bothers you. One of the goal of computer security is to make sure you will enjoy your computing experience without bother about unwanted advertisement and software. Microsoft Anti-Malware team recently made some changes on criteria of detect a software as potential unwanted software and enforce it in new Anti-Malware technology. So if you are using any Microsoft Anti-Malware Products including Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows Defender in Windows 8, Windows Intune Endpoint Protection, System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Endpoint Protection, Microsoft Safety Scanner and other products, this is applicable for you and it is already being applied in your system (if your Anti-Malware product is updated. The new criteria for considering a program as potential unwanted software is as follows:

  • Unwanted behavior: Let say a software been installed and you don’t know how to uninstall it. One easy and direct way of install a software is through uninstall programs in control panel, but it is not there and you have a difficult time to remove it or it displaying several advertisements and you don’t have control to close them or disable them, these are some example of potential unwanted behavior, software behave in a way which we don’t want them to do so. It is different form a software error which is unexpected. Unwanted behavior is something which is expected and designed and developer is well aware of it and design it that way.


  • Advertising: You will see unwanted advertisements and pop-up. It is different from advertisement in websites which the web designer designed their websites in a way to show such an advertisement and you won’t get advertisement when you won’t visit a website. An advertisement consider as Adware or Potential Unwanted Software , when it take your PC and advertise for you by modifying your browser to show their advertisements usually in all or most webpage or simply show advertisement when you are using your PC.


  • Privacy: When software collect your personal information and especially when it won’t get permission from you and there is no proper privacy statement and how it collect, manage and use your data. There is software which collect your PC information to give you a right service, like let say a program develop in two different language, it might check your language setting and depending on that show you guide and help with language same as your PC which consider safe but if it send it over remote server without declaring it or providing reason, that is something we should consider as privacy breach.


  • Consumer opinion: Whether we classify software as potential unwanted or safe is very subjective, a program might consider safe for some people and for other consider unsafe and unwanted. For this reason, depending on how majority of people experiencing with a software that consider whether classify a software as unwanted or safe.

For detail information about criteria of considering a program as potential unwanted software by Microsoft Anti-Malware technology, you may have a look at How Microsoft antimalware products identify malware and potentially unwanted software

All of you could help to improve detection of potential unwanted software , so if you are using any Microsoft Anti-Malware product and there is software which you believe meet above criteria and won’t detect as potential unwanted software (simply example a program which install without your knowledge or the one which is very difficult to be removed, you could submit a sample of it to Microsoft Malware Protection Center. When you submit a sample is being analyze by Anti-Malware researchers and if it consider as a threat, a removal or definition signature for it will be created and when you update your Anti-Malware product it is able to remove it and prevent it from being installed in future.

So let us find those unwanted programs and get rid of them and if you face new and undetected one, just report them.




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