Microsoft Windows 10 OS is about to get the eagerly awaited May 2020 Cumulative Feature Update. The Windows 10 v2004 or 20H1 update includes several new features, functionality improvements, and stability enhancement along with bug-fixes. One of the features, important from a security perspective, grants the ability to prevent the installation of Potentially Unauthorized Apps (PUA).
The feature was previously available only in the Microsoft Edge web-browser. But Microsoft has now expanded Potentially Unwanted App (PUA) protection in the new Microsoft Edge browser to Windows 10, with May 2020 Update version v2004.
Windows 10 May 2020 Update Gets PUA Blocking Feature:
Microsoft should roll out the Windows 10 May 2020 v2004 or 20H1 update anytime now. The new update comes with several features as well as improvements. It also introduces a new addition to Windows Defender to prevent the installation of unauthorized apps.
Microsoft Windows 10 integrated or default Antivirus, the Windows Defender, can block Potentially Unwanted Apps or Potentially Unwanted Programs, known as PUAs or PUPs, via group policies, Powershell, or even registry. However, Windows 10 Security Center neither offered a setting nor blocked the unwanted software natively. This is about to change in the new update.
— SergiioMan (@sergiioman) May 25, 2020
PUA or PUP are basically hidden or camouflaged apps that are bundled with genuine app installers. These could include plugins, extensions, and even software that are included with another app and are not important or useful. At worst, these can be malware or data mining platforms.
Needless to add, these PUA or PUP can undermine the security of Windows 10 installation and can also excessively use resources. By enabling PUA protection the PC should be protected against apps that are included with legitimate installers. These are mostly low-reputation apps, but they are often not classified as malware. Still, such apps can cause system slowdown, show intrusive ads, and exhibit unexpected behaviors.
How To Enable PUA or PUP Blocking Feature In Windows Defender In Windows 10:
To enable “Reputation-based Protection” users will need to follow the steps below:
- Visit Start menu > Settings
- Click Update & Security > Windows Security > App & browser control
- Open Reputation-based Protection Settings,
- Enable “Potentially Unwanted app blocking” and select “Block apps” and “Block downloads”.
Selecting ‘Block Apps’ will make Windows Defender detect and block PUAs the users are downloading or have downloaded to the device even if they are using third-party antivirus, instead of the Windows Security app.
Enable Protection Against Potentially Unwanted Apps in Windows 10 https://t.co/37zop5d98m
— Sergey Tkachenko (@winreview) May 25, 2020
Selecting ‘Block Downloads’ will make Windows Defender check PUAs that being downloaded in the Microsoft Edge web browser. This Setting will be synchronized with Microsoft Edge stable. In other words, only the stable edition of the Microsoft Edge web browser will have the feature. It will not be available with other browsers, at least during the download phase.
Incidentally, the ability to block PUA or PUP was preexistent in the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge web browser. Users can currently enable PUA protection in the new Edge browser by visiting Settings > Privacy and services > Services > Block Potentially Unwanted apps.
#Windows 10 gets potentially unwanted applications #PUA/#PUP protection feature in May #update (off by default), that will block apps that silently install #adware, #trackware, change browser settings, install root certificates, or…https://t.co/nDFxGFbwOO https://t.co/VsalBFuy2Q
— Mario Procopio (@The_Proc) May 13, 2020
Users can also filter the protection history by Recommendations, Quarantined items, and blocked items. Whenever Windows Defender will block a PUA or PUP, Windows 10 OS users will get a notification in the Action Center which will urge them to visit Windows Security to take an action. The Notification will read as follows:
“App& browser control
Potentially Unwanted App found. To review your options go to Windows Security”
Clicking on the Windows Defender PUA or PUP Notification will open Windows Security and will offer information about the threat and its severity level.
Clicking “Start Actions” will offer options to Remove, Quarantine, and Allow PUA or PUP on the device. Generally, users are recommended to Quarantine the threat and remove it immediately. If the users are sure about the app, they can allow it if it is not a PUA according to their knowledge.