Avira AntiVir Vs. Malwarebytes
Emsisoft Emergency Kit Read on for our detailed analysis of each app If you’re looking for the best free anti-malware software for Windows — whether it’s a whole new security package, or just an additional program to give your regular antivirus a boost — then you’ve come to the right place. Here is our definitive list of the best free anti-malware software, and choosing the right software for your needs is essential, as malware continues to be a threat and a concern for us all. It’s not just viruses we’re talking about here, but also annoying programs such as adware, that can embed themselves in your web browser and add toolbars or change you homepage. Not only are these annoying, but they also pose a serious security risk.
Malwarebytes does use version numbers, but only updates numbers as needed. I reviewed version 3. A central status panel that reports, “Awesome! You’re protected” dominates the central status panel. To the left is a simple menu; to the right, a panel reporting component status. The only visible difference from the free edition is that all the components are enabled, and there are no Upgrade Now buttons.
Those using Malwarebytes Free have just one scan choice, the full-system Threat Scan. With the Premium edition, you can choose the ultra-fast Hyper Scan, or configure a Custom Scan to run precisely where and how you wish.
However, the full scan is so fast that I can’t imagine needing something faster. On my standard clean test system, it finished in about 2. Even on systems infected with malware, it finished in about five minutes. Given that the current average for a full scan is more than 45 minutes, that’s really, really fast.
Plays Well With Others? 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 alongside, say, Kaspersky, or Bitdefender.
However, the audience of consumers who want to pay for two security products isn’t huge. My Malwarebytes contact explained that the most common partner for Malwarebytes Premium is the built-in Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center , and the product’s own configuration options reflect this fact. The Security Center builds on the premise that every computer should have exactly one real-time antivirus running.
If it detects no registered antivirus, it keeps Windows Defender active. When you install a third-party antivirus solution, it sends Windows Defender off for a nap. And if you attempt to install another third-party antivirus, the security center sends a command that disables the first product’s real-time protection.
Here’s how Malwarebytes handles those responses. If you install it on a PC with no antivirus, it refrains from registering with the Security Center, allowing Windows Defender to keep running.
If there’s an antivirus already present, Malwarebytes registers, thereby inactivating the existing antivirus. And when the user uninstalls that deactivated antivirus, Malwarebytes once again pulls out of registration with the Security Center, leaving it to partner with Windows Defender. You have to reach into the settings and configure Malwarebytes so it never registers with Security Center. That lets your existing antivirus remain active, while Windows Defender stays in the background.
It took me a while to wrap my head around the whole process, I must admit. Layers of Protection 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. Click Settings on the main window, click the Protection tab, 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. The array of features here is dizzying. Lab Results Limited There’s one small problem with these powerful, focused protection layers; they’re tough to test. Exploit attacks only work on a specific program version that contains the matching vulnerability. Malwarebytes kicks in only when such a matchup occurs, because without a match no actual damage is possible.
And so on. Many of the independent antivirus testing labs strive to create tests that emulate real-world situations, but this emulation isn’t perfect. And many of them still include simple file-recognition in their testing. My contact at Malwarebytes explained that the designers could bulk up the product with features aimed solely at passing tests, or they could keep it nimble and focus on actually protecting users.
They chose the latter. It hits products with various types of malware and expects perfection. A product that fends off every malware sample earns Level 1 certification. One that allows some to install, but completely cleans them up within 24 hours takes Level 2. Any product that didn’t reach either goal simply fails. This lab tested the free Malwarebytes cleanup tool, which clearly didn’t have an opportunity to block attack using real-time protection.
A cleanup tool that wipes out every sample earns Level 1 protection. Three of the four cleanup tools tested failed in that feat; Malwarebytes was one of them. Interestingly, Windows Defender recently managed Level 2 certification for the first time. Really, though, there’s just not enough information from the labs. I can’t give Malwarebytes an aggregate lab score based on so little. In any case, per its creators, it’s not designed to pass tests, and they don’t care if it doesn’t, as long as it protects their users.
If numerous excellent labs scores fill you with confidence, you’ll be thrilled with Kaspersky Anti-Virus. My aggregate lab results algorithm maps scores from all four labs on to a scale from 0 to 10, to derive a combined score. Based on results from all four labs, Kaspersky gets 10 points, the maximum. Bitdefender typically runs right behind Kaspersky, but a few recent missteps knocked its aggregate score down below 9 points.
Malware Protection For most products, my malware protection test begins the moment I open the folder containing my current collection of malware samples.
The minor file access that occurs when Windows Explorer reads a file’s name, size, and attributes is enough to trigger a real-time scan for some. For others, clicking on the file triggers a scan.
To maintain compatibility and avoid stepping on the toes of such programs, Malwarebytes waits until the malware attempts to launch. Looking at Task Manager, I could see that Malwarebytes didn’t let suspect processes execute until it could finish its analysis. Sometimes this took as long as 15 seconds. Don’t worry; I saw no such delay in execution of innocuous programs. Malwarebytes detected and quarantined 79 percent of the samples before they ever got to launch. It detected a few more during the install process, for a total detection rate of 86 percent and an overall score of 8.
As for the samples it missed, there’s the possibility that they simply did not exhibit malicious behavior during the test. I have only tested a few products using this precise collection of malware.
Windows Defender went lower, with 8. Looking at programs tested using my previous malware collection, Norton and Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus stand out. Both detected every single sample, and both earned a perfect 10 points. Malware Protection Results Chart Malwarebytes focuses on prevalent malware, which made me think it would do well in my malicious URL blocking test. Typically, I use URLs captured just the day before, so they’re very fresh. I go down the list of URLs, launching each and noting whether the antivirus kept the browser away from the dangerous location, quarantined the malware download, or did nothing at all.
Of course, even after just a day, some of the URLs no longer work. I keep up this process until I have about data points, then run the numbers. The web protection component proved significantly improved. In my previous test, it blocked access to just 3 percent of the dangerous URLs, while the current edition blocked 22 percent of them.
In addition, it indicated just what type of danger it averted; ransomware, riskware, spyware, and so on. Still, 22 percent is a dismal score by itself.
Other products achieve higher scores because their on-access scanning kicks in for every download. I bent the rules a bit for Malwarebytes and launched each malware download, giving it a chance to quarantine any it recognized as malicious. That brought its overall score up to 89 percent, putting it in about the top third of recent products.
Last time around, even with my rule-bending, it only managed 55 percent. Norton is the victor in this test; it exhibited a 98 percent detection rate. Not Meant to Block All Phishing Malwarebytes doesn’t claim to offer full-scale phishing protection, though the same component that blocks malware-hosting URLs can also detect phishing attacks.
My contact at the company explained that this component works alongside the phishing protection built into the browser, which these days is quite effective. To test a product’s ability to detect and fend off phishing attacks, I use the newest samples I can get, often only hours old, and usually too new to be on any backlists. Phishing techniques change constantly, as the fraudsters seek new ways to evade detection. Rather than report a hard detection rate, I compare each product’s abilities with those of phishing phenom Symantec Norton AntiVirus Basic.
I also compare with the phishing protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
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Malwarebytes does use version numbers, but only updates numbers as needed. I reviewed version 3. A central status panel that reports, “Awesome! You’re protected” dominates the central status panel.
VIDEO: Fix: Malwarebytes Disables Windows Defender or 3rd Party Anti-Virus
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