Potentially unwanted

Software that may be legitimate, but may also be unwanted

The term 'potentially unwanted' is commonly used to refer to software with potentially malicious, intrusive, fraudulent or simply irritating or timewasting properties. It covers a wide range of items commonly detected by security products, particularly in corporate settings, which cannot definitively be identified as dangerous, but the presence of which administrators may wish to be alerted to.

Adware and spyware applications, tools useful to hackers such as packet sniffers and port scanners, joke programs, chat software and even games are labelled by some products as potentially unwanted, despite having legitimate (in some cases stretching the term somewhat) uses. Different products use slight variations in terminology, so the 'potentially unwanted' may be followed by 'application', 'program' or 'software' (to form PUA, PUP, PUS), while others may use more exact references for different sub-divisions of the class, such as 'Hacker Tool', 'Risk Tool', or simply refer to them as 'Program'. In most cases default actions on encountering such items are likely to be less severe, and administrators may be able to deactivate such detection entirely or, if a stricter policy is in force, automatically remove all or some such items when discovered.