Windows 10 will block Potentially Unwanted Applications by default

Laptop security

Microsoft is making a change to the way so-called Potentially Unwanted Apps (PUAs) are handled by Defender and Edge in Windows 10.

Starting this month, Microsoft Defender and Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 will default to blocking PUAs. Users who want greater control over the apps that can be run on their computer have the option of disabling the setting, but this does mean missing out on an important protective measure.

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Microsoft announced the change in a Windows support article. The company explains that "Potentially unwanted applications (PUA) are a category of software that can cause your device to run slowly, display unexpected ads, or at worst, install other software which may be more harmful or annoying. PUA isn’t malware, but it is software that you often don't need and probably don't want".

Such apps will generally come from online sources, but they can also be run from network locations or USB drives. As the name suggests, PUAs are undesirable because they may be malicious and could cause harm such as data loss. This is precisely why Microsoft added Potentially Unwanted App blocking for everyone to Windows 10 in version 2004 (the May 2020 Update). Importantly, however, the security feature was disabled by default and had to be manually enabled.

Remedying what many saw as something of an oversight, Microsoft says of PUA blocking:

Starting in early August 2021 we'll begin turning it on by default to make it easier for you to keep your systems performing at their best. If you'd like to turn it off, or back on, for any reason you can do so by going to the Windows Security app > App & browser control > Reputation-based protection

With the protection in place, Windows 10 users have an additional layer of security against malware and other nasties.

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