Malwarebytes Anti-Malware’s industry-leading scanner detects and removes malware like worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and more. All you have to do is launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and run a scan. It’s that simple. Or if you want even better protection, consider Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium and its instant real-time scanner that automatically prevents malware and websites from infecting your PC. Either way you’re crushing malware and foiling hackers. According to OPSWAT, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware offline installer for PC is the most popular security product installed by users.
A status panel across the top of the totally redesigned main window features a silhouette-style landscape, with clouds, mountains, and a city skyline. When all is well, the panel reports “Awesome! Your computer is protected.” Three simple rectangular panels occupy the bottom half of the window. At left, you can view the stats for the latest scan, or click for full history. At right, simple toggles control four layers of protection. Clicking the middle panel launches a scan. It’s a clean, attractive layout.
When you call for an on-demand scan, you get a full Threat Scan by default, just as you do with Malwarebytes Free. A Threat Scan on one of my clean test systems finished in four minutes. Even scanning systems infested with malware, it averaged just seven minutes. Given the average for current products is over an hour, that’s really fast. You can still opt for a quick scan by clicking the Advanced scanners link; but, given such quick full scans, why would you? This is also the spot to elect a custom scan, choosing just where and how the antivirus does its work.
The scan scheduler lets you run a full, quick, or custom scan on a regular basis. You can choose an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly scan; or you can set it to scan any time the system reboots. Quick scan, custom scan, and scan scheduling are Premium-only features.
For some years, press materials from Malwarebytes have emphasized that the program is compatible with other antivirus solutions, so there’s no problem using it as a companion to, say, Kaspersky, or Bitdefender. However, the audience of consumers who want to pay for two security products isn’t huge. Malwarebytes used to perform some clever tricks with the Security Center to let it work alongside Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center, and included configuration options to let it work along with other third-party solutions.
That changes somewhat in version 4. Now the product defaults to registering with Security Center, which means that when it comes on the scene Windows Defender goes to sleep. If you really want to use Malwarebytes in conjunction with, say, Norton or McAfee AntiVirus Plus, you can change a setting so it doesn’t register itself as the antivirus in charge.
Malwarebytes includes signature-based detection as one of its layers. However, the company’s researchers constantly trim unnecessary signatures, to keep the product’s scan time down. If a particular threat hasn’t turned up in user logs for half a year or so, out goes the signature! My contact at the company noted that signature-based detection accounts for barely five percent of all detections at present.
Web protection blocks traffic to known dangerous addresses, whether by the browser or by a malicious application. Ransomware protection watches for the behaviors that occur when an unknown program is getting ready to encrypt your files. It should catch even a zero-day ransomware attack, with no need to recognize anything but behaviors that suggest ransomware.
Exploit attacks take advantage of security holes in popular applications, using the security vulnerability to take control. Even if you keep your operating system and programs patched, there’s always a window when the vulnerability is known but not yet patched. Malwarebytes shields several dozen popular applications against attack. This is a generalized protection against exploit behaviors, not protection against specific exploits.
For a view of what exploit protection means, click the settings gear in the main window, click the Security link, scroll to the bottom, and click Advanced Settings. This opens the Anti-Exploit settings window, which warns that you should not change any settings except by instruction of a tech support expert. But go ahead and look. You’ll learn that Malwarebytes does things like enforce DEP (Data Execution Prevention) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization). It blocks attacks that use ROP (Return-Oriented Programming) and prevents attacks on system memory. The array of features here is dizzying.
New since my last review, Malwarebytes offers the free Browser Guard security plug-in for Chrome and Firefox. When I tested it with Malwarebytes Free, it didn’t have much success against malware-hosting URLs or phishing sites. It did point out on every warning page that you should upgrade to Premium for full protection. As you’ll see below, I found that Browser Guard integrates with Malwarebytes Premium and gives this product’s protection a boost. If you use Chrome or Firefox, be sure to install Browser Guard.