Microsoft has added potentially unwanted application (PUA) protection to its enterprise security software offerings to block programs from installing software you didn't want in the first place. PUAs are programs that contains adware, installs toolbars or carries malware that changes your browser settings without your permission. They can be found in a number of consumer and business software bundles online.
Malware image from Shutterstock
PUAs are mostly a nuisance for unwitting victims as it can be a frustrating process to remove them, but they have the potential to do harm to an enterprise network. According to Microsoft:
These applications can increase the risk of your network being infected with malware, cause malware infections to be harder to identify among the noise, and can waste helpdesk, IT, and user time cleaning up the applications. … Typical examples of behaviour that we consider PUA include ad-injection, many types of software bundling, and persistent solicitation for payment for services based on fraudulent claims.
To give increased protection to enterprises using its Windows operating system, Microsoft has introduced a new opt-in feature to fight off PUAs to its System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP) and Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) offerings. The feature detects and prevents PUAs from downloading and installing.
PUA protection updates are included as part of the existing definition updates and cloud protection for Microsoft's enterprise customers. For system administrators looking to deploy PUA protection in its organisation, Microsoft has put up a blog post with detailed instructions on how to do so.