What is a PUP?

PUPs, short for "Potentially Unwanted Programs," are a class of software halfway between malware and not malware. Unlike malware, PUPs can potentially have an actual valid use, but they are normally classified as unwanted because some of the things they do can be annoying. For example, PUPs might repeatedly show advertisements that are unrelated to the software or automatically reset certain settings.

PUPs - Potentially Unwanted Programs

Imagine a piece of software called something like "Easy PDF Converter" that technically works to convert PDFs, but while doing so also displays annoying advertisements. This piece of software would likely get classified as a PUP because of its annoying behavior and the fact that there are many other pieces of software that accomplish the goal without the annoying tactics.

Return to the Malware Glossary page.