2 min read

Why Are Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) Considered Dangerous?

Filip TRUȚĂ

June 16, 2022

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
Why Are Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) Considered Dangerous?

Potentially Unwanted Applications, or PUAs, walk the thin line between nuisance and malware. While PUAs mainly just hog system resources, they often also display aggressive ads, collect data without your consent, and may even perform secondary downloads that might hide actual cyber threats.

Bitdefender telemetry shows that PUAs make up around a third of all threats directed at Windows and macOS systems. PUA operators target large territories with massive user bases. The US, Europe and Latin America are bombarded the most, our data shows.

Global PUA distribution (Windows)

Credit: Bitdefender

PUAs are most commonly found as freeware, repackaged applications, system cleaners or other utilities with hidden functionality like data tracking and even coin mining. Others hijack the user’s browser, altering its functionality – like changing the default search engine and installing plugins – without consent.

Global PUA Distribution (macOS)

Credit: Bitdefender

Some of the most aggressive PUAs can modify third-party apps, download additional software behind the scenes, or alter system settings – which can mushroom into actual security and privacy issues.

Equally nefarious are the scareware-type PUAs that display exaggerated or bogus notifications claiming the system is exhibiting problems that require immediate attention. Typically, the software claims to have a solution for the problem – but that solution sits behind a paywall. Under the hood, the software lacks the code to perform the alleged fixes. Plus, the problem it claims your computer exhibits likely isn’t even real.

Other PUAs display excessive ads, causing a fragmented experience and overall annoyance. These bad-user-experience apps typically permeate the Android ecosystem, but many can also be found in Apple’s walled garden, the iOS App Store.

Bundling PUAs are also common. They install other apps and plugins the user may not want. These PUAs are also considered quite dangerous, as they don’t disclose their real purpose or behavior upfront, meaning they might also covertly collect data and send it to some unknown server. Another telltale sign that you’re dealing with a typical PUA is a lack of conventional means to uninstall the software.

Modern security solutions are equipped to detect these undesirable experiences and can help you steer clear of shady apps. Bitdefender offers the right tool for this job on both desktop and mobile platforms.

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

November 22, 2022

3 min read
Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

November 16, 2022

6 min read
Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

November 14, 2022

5 min read
August Spam Debrief: Bitdefender Labs Warns of Fraud Campaigns Exploiting the Russia-Ukraine War

August Spam Debrief: Bitdefender Labs Warns of Fraud Campaigns Exploiting the Russia-Ukraine War

August 31, 2022

4 min read
Snake Keylogger Returns in Malspam Campaign Disguised as Business Portfolio from IT Vendor

Snake Keylogger Returns in Malspam Campaign Disguised as Business Portfolio from IT Vendor

August 30, 2022

2 min read
What is medical identity theft and how to protect against it

What is medical identity theft and how to protect against it

July 27, 2022

2 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

Enhance your productivity and increase privacy on National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day Enhance your productivity and increase privacy on National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day
Alina BÎZGĂ

October 17, 2022

2 min read
6 telltale signs that scream you’re about to fall victim to an online job scam 6 telltale signs that scream you’re about to fall victim to an online job scam
Alina BÎZGĂ

September 13, 2022

2 min read
What Is Scareware and How Do You Beat It? What Is Scareware and How Do You Beat It?
Filip TRUȚĂ

August 10, 2022

2 min read