This Windows 10 antivirus update will automatically block potentially unwanted applications

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Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will automatically start blocking potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) in early August.

This feature was actually included in the May 2004 update for Windows 10, but has been disabled by default (unless you’re an Enterprise customer) since its release.

However, Microsoft Defender will proactively block PUAs soon, with a company support update announcing the feature noting that “Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are a category of software that can slow down your device, display unexpected ads. or worse, install other software which may be more harmful or annoying. PUA is not malware, but it is software that you often don’t need and probably don’t want. “

“In the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, we added Potentially Unwanted Application Blocking for everyone running Windows 10, but customers who wanted to use it still had to turn it on. “

“Starting in early August 2021, we’ll start turning it on by default to make it easier for you to maintain your systems at their peak performance.”

Windows 10 Antivirus Upgrade

As Microsoft mentioned in its newsletter, PUAs (also known as PUPs or potentially unwanted programs) are not technically malware, but they are definitely not something you want on your device as they present the risk of introducing spyware and other security risks to your computer. Not all PUAs are harmful, but some can be annoying by generating pop-up ads or slowing down your device’s performance.

The classification is broad, but it can take the form of adware, invasive programs, and browser extensions. Microsoft has its own specified definitions of what it considers a PUA. We’ve described them below, but you can read more about how it identifies malware and other security risks in the Threat Protection section of Microsoft’s website.

  • Advertising software: Software that displays advertisements or promotions, or prompts you to complete surveys for other products or services in software other than itself. This includes software that places advertisements on web pages.
  • Torrent software (Enterprise only): Software used to create or download torrents or other files specifically used with peer-to-peer file sharing technologies.
  • Cryptomining software: Software that uses your device’s resources to mine cryptocurrencies.
  • Grouping software: Software that offers to install other software that is not developed by the same entity or that is not necessary for the operation of the software. Also, software that proposes to install other software qualified as PUA on the basis of the criteria described in this document.
  • Marketing software: Software that monitors and transmits user activities to applications or services other than itself for marketing research.
  • Escape software: Software that actively tries to evade detection by security products, including software that behaves differently in the presence of security products.
  • Bad reputation of the industry: Software that trusted security vendors detect with their security products. The security industry is dedicated to protecting customers and enhancing their experiences. Microsoft and other organizations in the security industry continually share their knowledge of the files we have scanned to provide users with the best possible protection.

Analysis: do you need to enable / disable the feature?

For the vast majority of Windows 10 users, this update is just good news. After all, no one wants spam apps to invade their device.

However, there is a small risk that legitimate software will be scanned by PUAs, especially if you use your computer to mine cryptocurrencies or if you work in an industry that uses torrent software.

Fortunately, it’s easy to toggle the PUA blocking if you need to.

  • Select Start> Settings
  • Go to Update & Security and select Windows Security
  • Activate the “Open Windows Security” button
  • Select Application and browser control> Reputation-based protection
  • Enable or disable blocking of potentially unwanted applications to enable or disable the feature

You can also create exclusions in Windows Defender to prevent scanning of specific files or apps.

  • Select Start> Settings
  • Go to Update & Security and select Windows Security
  • In Windows Security windows, click Virus and Protection
  • From there, navigate to Manage location settings and exclusions.
  • Tap Add or remove exclusions

From there, you can just add the files you want to exclude from Windows Defender, which allows you to keep the new automated PUA blocker enabled. This is preferable to disabling the feature entirely given how malicious PUAs can be. Hopefully, Microsoft’s proactive approach should hopefully encourage other antivirus vendors to take similar action.

Via computer beep


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