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Windows Defender Antivirus’ protection against potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) can identify PUAs and block the download and installation of PUAs at endpoints on your network.
These applications are not considered viruses, malware, or other types of threats, but they can perform actions on endpoints that affect their performance or usage. AUPs can also refer to applications that are considered to have a bad reputation.
Typical AUP behavior includes:
- Different types of bundled software
- Advertising in the web browser
Driver and registry optimizers that detect problems, require payment to fix them, but remain on the workstation and do not make any changes or optimizations (also called “malicious antivirus” programs).
These applications can increase the risk of infecting your network with malware, make infections harder to identify, and can waste IT resources cleaning applications.
By default, PUA protection is not enabled in Windows Defender and must be enabled on demand.
Check if the PUA Protection (Possibly Unwanted Applications) is Enabled
Open PowerShell or the command prompt as Admin. You can find PowerShell (Admin) by pressing the Windows + X key
Copy and paste the next two lines in succession, followed by the Enter key.
- $Preferences = Get-MpPreference
- $Preferences.PUAProtection ($Settings.PUAP protection)
0 means that potentially unwanted applications are disabled and 1 means that they are enabled.
Enabling protection against potentially unwanted programs in Windows Defender
White list of applications blocked by the AUP
Detected AUPs are automatically moved to the Windows Defender quarantine. From time to time, you may want to keep a program that Windows Defender has identified as an AUP.
You can restore any program quarantined by Windows Defender, and potentially unwanted programs are no exception.
- Use Windows I to open the Settings application.
- Go to Update and Security > Windows Security
- Select Open Windows Security.
- Go to Virus and Threat Protection.
- Click Threat History.
- Select the threat that you want to restore, and then restore it.
- If you do not see the threat in this list because only some of them are displayed, select “Show full history” to get the full list.
Windows Defender restores the file to its original location, such as the Downloads folder. You should then be able to manage it without any problems from there.
How to manage AUPs in Windows 10
When Windows Defender blocks a PUA, you usually receive an automatic notification in the Action Center. When you click the alert, you are notified of application threats or their security level. If you know the program you downloaded and want to install it, click Start Actions.
Typically, Windows security provides three options, Delete, Quarantine, or Allow PUA on the device. Choose the option that suits you best. If you are unfamiliar with the application, you can quarantine it and check for errors or problems in the system.
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