Security Experts:

Microsoft Boosts PUA Protections in Edge

Microsoft this week announced new features in its Edge browser to prevent the download of potentially unwanted applications (PUA).

PUAs may refer to applications that create extra advertisements, mine for crypto-currencies, or display offers for other pieces of software that have a poor reputation. Such software can hurt user experience, lower productivity and machine performance, and degrade the overall Windows experience.

Beginning with version 80.0.338.0, Microsoft Edge will include a new feature designed to block downloads that may contain PUAs, preventing those apps from reaching the user’s computer.

The feature, however, will be disabled by default, although users will be able to enable it in just three steps, by clicking on “…” on the top right corner, going to Settings, then Privacy and services, and turning on the “Block potentially unwanted apps” option under Services.

PUA blocking, Microsoft says, requires Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to be enabled.

For apps that have been labeled as PUA by mistake, Edge will offer the option to keep the app. For that, users will have to tap “…” in the bottom bar, select Keep, and then choose Keep anyway in the dialog that appears.

Users can also go to edge://downloads/ to report apps as reputable. This will redirect them to Microsoft’s feedback site, where they can provide details on why an app might have been mistakenly marked as PUA.

The idea behind the new feature, the tech giant says, is to help users get the applications they want, while still providing them with control over their devices and experiences.

Microsoft has published security documentation detailing how it identifies malware, unwanted software, and PUA. The company also published information on how administrators can enable the feature for their users.

“We encourage users to always try to download software from a trusted location, such as the publisher’s website or a reputable app store, and to check reviews of the app and the reputation of the publisher before downloading,” noted Juli Hooper and Michael Johnson of the Microsoft Defender ATP team.

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