We’re not referring to those small, furry, wide eye adorable little creatures. The PUPs we are referring to aren’t cute and are potentially dangerous. PUP stands for Potentially Unwanted Program. The acronym is used by the information security industry to identify software that a user may perceive as unwanted.

PUPs are an important piece of malicious software that you should be aware of and understand. These sneaky little programs come bundled in with software that you knowingly (and sometimes, unknowingly) download onto your computer. We’ve all done it at one time or another. You need a piece of software to complete a project or assignment that you are already behind schedule on. You search the internet for the software you need, scroll past the Google AdWord search results, find the software you need, and quickly click through the installation. You breeze through (or ignore) the fine print and click the “I agree” checkbox to just install the thing – and install these extra applications. Not only have you now downloaded the software you wanted, but you now have several other programs you probably don’t want. These unwanted programs can range from annoying adware with pop-ups, auto-installed new toolbars, to more sinister software that collects private information.    

It only takes a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from a vicious PUP:

  • Carefully read through the install wizard instructions, end user license agreement, terms and conditions and privacy terms when installing software.

  • Select the “custom” install and not the standard installation option and don’t blindly click next..next…next.

  • Check the check boxes to make sure you are only getting the software you want and need.

  • Use a pop-up blocker or anti-spyware software.

Watching out for PUP’s will keep your computer safe and avoid those unwanted accidents.