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Microsoft goes nuclear on fake cleanup and optimization apps

Posted on Wednesday, January 31 2018 @ 12:36:19 CET by

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Here's an interesting story. Microsoft noticed there's been a big uptick in cleanup and optimization tools that coerce users to upgrade to a paid version. Basically, these apps are offered for free and trick the user into paying money for the premium version by reporting errors or other issues in an alarming way. The software giant rightfully argues that these tools are unnecessary purchases and will take action to protect Windows users.

These tools aren't malware but could be classified as scareware. Microsoft has updated its evaluation criteria to better protect Windows users. The biggest change is that starting on March 1, 2018, apps that display coercive messaging will be flagged as unwanted software.

Systems with Windows Defender Antivirus and other Microsoft security tools will detect and automatically remove these programs.

Here's a look at the new evaluation criteria:
Unwanted behaviors: coercive messaging
Programs must not display alarming or coercive messages or misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions.

Software that coerces users may display the following characteristics, among others:

  • Reports errors in an exaggerated or alarming manner about the user’s system and requires the user to pay for fixing the errors or issues monetarily or by performing other actions such as taking a survey, downloading a file, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Suggests that no other actions will correct the reported errors or issues
  • Requires the user to act within a limited period of time to get the purported issue resolved



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