What are PUPs?

By | November 12, 2015
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What are PUPs?

PUPs are not things; PUPs is an acronym for Potentially Unwanted Programs. It really should be PUS, Potentially Unwanted Software – but PUS doesn’t sound very nice – though PUS might be closer to what you get when you install PUPs (or malware) on your computer.

PUPs are what antivirus/antimalware companies call some malware so they don’t have to come right out and call it “malware”. There are those who will tell you that malware is “malicious software” but the prefix “mal” does not mean malicious – it can evil, ill, bad – for instance “malevolent:” Some people, will rankle on about the malware being malicious software and PUPs being a kindlier, less dangerous, less annoying form of malware. The fact is the prefix MAL does not derive from the word “malicious”, it means bad or evil, used as a prefix in words such as malfeasance, malady, maladjusted, malware and hundreds of others.

Dictionary.com says:


Word Origin

1. a combining form meaning “bad,” “wrongful,” “ill,” occurring originally in loanwords from French ( malapert); on this model, used in the formation of other words (malfunction; malcontent).

PUPs are malware – whether they are malicious or not. If any of you have ever had a browser toolbar installed without your knowing consent (most PUPs are installed by trickery) and you later found you were continually being redirected to sites you didn’t want to visit, or had your browser’s default search engine and/or home page changed so it was difficult for you to change it back, or had advertisements popping up from everywhere and out of nowhere because of a PUP or PUPs that you were tricked into installing, we’re pretty sure you’d call it malware.

PUPs are malware programs made by companies that have the potential to sue any antivirus/antimalware developer who dares to call their toolbars, search hijackers, browser hijackers, ad injectors, etc., malware. Malware is what antivirus/antimalware developers call software programs that do some of the same things as PUPs but are created by individuals or small groups that pose no threat of bringing legal action.

A company (Avira) has already been sued for calling a software program a PUP. You can read about that here.

Viruses, Trojans, worms, browser hijackers, search engine hijackers, rogues, ad-injectors, and other software you don’t want on your computer are all malware. PUPs are all of those except for viruses, Trojans, worms and rogues. PUPs is the name given the most ubiquitous malware – the kinds of malware you’re most likely to be faced with – and if you’re not careful – infected with.

Whether its tagged “malware” or PUP, it’s all bad stuff you don’t want on your computer. While the term PUPs makes it seem like the software is not so bad, and it’s up to you to decide whether you want to install it or keep it, PUPs or Potentially Unwanted Programs is an acronym and it’s a euphemism for malware. It’s not potentially unwanted, it is always unwanted.

Someday, we hope, someone will stand up to the billion-dollar toolbar/PUP industry and start calling a spade a spade.

PUPs are malware, make no mistake about it. And that’s another reason we recommend Emsisoft Anti-Malware and antivirus. Emsisoft is one of the few security programs that offer protection from viruses, Trojans,worms and rogues, as well as malware and PUPs.

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