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Potentially unwanted program

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A Potentially unwanted program (or PUP) is a program that may be unwanted, despite the possibility that users consented to download it. PUPs include spyware, adware, and dialers, and are often downloaded in conjunction with a program that the user wants. Some PUP files will download taskbars.

The term was created by McAfee because marketing firms objected to having their products called "spyware": in the view of such firms, all the information necessary for informed consent is included in the download agreement. It is widely recognized, however, that many if not most users fail to read a download agreement in sufficient detail to understand exactly what they are downloading. For instance if the user is downloading a file off of the internet, there is a high chance that said user may be clicking through through everything without actually taking the time to read what they are actually downloading.

McAfee differentiates PUPs from other types of malware, such as viruses, trojans and worms, which can be safely assumed to be unwanted by the user.

The most common type of PUPs are usually rogue software, in which the user usually just pays for "removal" of non-existent malware on their computer.

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