What is a potentially unwanted application or potentially unwanted content?

KB Solution ID: SOLN2629|Last Revised: May 19, 2015

Potentially unwanted applications

A potentially unwanted application (PUA) is a program that contains adware, installs toolbars or has other unclear objectives. There are some situations where a user may feel that the benefits of a potentially unwanted application outweigh the risks.

For this reason, ESET assigns such applications a lower-risk category compared to other types of malicious software, such as trojan horses or worms. While installing your ESET product, you can decide whether to enable detection of PUAs, as shown below (Figure 1-1):

Figure 1-1
Click the image to view larger in new window

These settings can be modified in your program settings at any time. Click your ESET product version below for more instructions on switching detection modes:

Warning–Potential threat found

When a PUA is detected, you will be able to decide which action to take. See Figure 1-2 for an example:

  • Disconnect: This option ends the action and prevents the potential threat from entering your system.
  • No action: This option allows a potential threat to enter your system.
  • To allow the application to run on your computer in the future without interruption, click Show Advanced Options and select the check box next to Exclude from detection.


Potentially unwanted applications may install adware, toolbars, or contain other unwanted and unsafe program features.

Figure 1-2 

Potentially unwanted applications–software wrappers

A software wrapper is a special type of application modification that is used by some file-hosting websites. It is a third-party tool that installs the program you intended to download but adds additional software, such as toolbars or adware. The additional software may also make changes to your web browser’s home page and search settings. Also, file-hosting websites often do not notify the software vendor or download recipient that modifications have been made and do not easily allow opting out of modification. For these reasons, ESET classifies software wrappers as a type of PUA to allow users to accept the download or not.

Potentially Unwanted Content

If PUA detection is enabled in your ESET product, websites that have a reputation for promoting PUAs or that have a reputation for misleading users into performing actions that might have negative implications on their system or browsing experience will be blocked as potentially unwanted content. If you receive a notification that a website you are attempting to visit is categorized as potentially unwanted content, you can click Go Back to navigate away from the blocked web page or click Proceed to the site to allow the site to load.


Figure 1-3


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