Malwarebytes is a California company that emerged 15 years ago, intending to provide the most efficient antivirus on the market. Malwarebytes evolved through many phases and recently launched their 4th version of antivirus with the help of advanced technology safeguards to protect your devices like never before. If you’ve read other reviews about this provider, you could be surprised and slightly confused about how much those differ from one another. The reason behind this is that many of those reviews are older and, naturally, refer to older versions of the product. In the past, Malwarebytes really wasn’t the greatest. But it has undergone some major changes and the 4th version is a comprehensive virus and threat detection software program that might surprise you with its new features.
Malwarebytes’ design is pretty straightforward and minimalistic. Malwarebytes comes in two packages: free and premium. The free version is limited and lacks some security features like URL filtering and real-time protection. But these and many more are available with the Premium package.
Which Features Does Malwarebytes provide?
Malwarebytes offers you the necessary features to protect your computer from known threats, but is that enough these days? Let’s take a closer look at available features, their quality, and how those stand up against the competitors’.
Early viruses were pretty primitive, and it was fairly easy to detect them since they were injecting their code into other programs and researchers could spot them by additional bytes added to the initial file. The way all antivirus programs used to work was the same: when a malicious file was recognized, it’s put in a database. Then, all the files in the users’ computer are compared to the database and if there’s a match – it means that the device is infected. Antivirus programs still uses the same technology to remove typical threats, but unfortunately, if that’s all antivirus has to offer – it’s not sufficient anymore. Today, viruses evolved and there’re numerous sneaky ways they can get into your device or network. On top of that, new viruses emerge every day and we’re dealing with polymorphic malware, pernicious ransomware, and other advanced attacks. That’s where behavioral detection comes to play. Essentially, it recognizes the patterns of how malicious software acts and detects it even if those viruses haven’t been previously detected and added to the database. This is made possible thanks to machine learning and other artificial intelligence tools. Malwarebytes currently utilizes both strategies in an attempt to detect a variety of viruses.
There are four main scanning options you can choose from with Malwarebytes: Threat Scan, Quick Scan, Custom Scan, and File/Folder Scan.
Let’s see how these types of scans operate and when it’s a good time to use each one of them.
This type of scan is good for situations where you don’t have time or patience to put your device through a Full Scan but still want to make sure that key folders and programs on your computer are safe and sound. Treat Scan checks key areas of the system, startup programs, and memory.
The fastest scan – it scans your memory and startup programs only for active infections. This is something you can run pretty much every single day.
This is the option for you if you want to check specific folders on your computer that you think are subject to vulnerability. The duration of such a scan may vary. It really depends on the number of folders/programs you’ve chosen to scan. Malwarebytes doesn’t have a separate full scan option, but you can check all boxes in Custom Scan and it’s the same thing. It can be a bit confusing especially if you have used other antivirus programs in the past and aren’t very tech-savvy.
It scans individual folders or files upon request.
One disadvantage of even the most proficient virus scanner, is that they can only detect a threat when it was already downloaded or got into the device some other way. And if you only do scans periodically, there’s a good chance that your device could suffer significant damage in between two scans. Basically, even if you have antivirus, you’re still not entirely safe.
That’s why antivirus developers came up with real-time protection. It’s an advanced security feature that prevents malicious software from being installed. Prevention is the best solution, so if real-time protection is able to ‘catch’ a virus beforehand – that’s as safe as it gets. Normally, this feature asks you if you want to quarantine a harmful file and doesn’t let it penetrate the computer before you take an action. The action taken by the system can be changed in the settings.
Malwarebytes real-time protection is available only with the premium version.
With real-time protection, you will get four layers of security features: Web Protection, PUP Protection, Exploit Protection, Malware, and Ransomware Protection. These layers are available in the dashboard of Malwarebytes, and you can turn them on and off.
With real-time protection, you will get five layers of security features:
- Web Protection
- PUP Protection (Potentially unwanted software) Software that you had no intention of downloading, but somehow it turned out on your computer. It tends to compromise your privacy and device security.
- Exploit Protection
- Ransomware Protection.
These layers are available in the dashboard of Malwarebytes, and you can turn them on and off.
Website Protection Module
This module can identify and subsequently block malicious domains and IPs. It blocks links to websites that Malwarebytes considers to be harmful or very annoying. Those include tech support scammers, fraudulent websites, phishing scams, illegal pharma, etc.
To activate the Website Protection Module, go to the settings and press on the ‘enabled’ radio button in the highlighted area.
Browser Guard is an optional, free extension that can be installed from the company’s website. It provides an additional layer of protection against ads, trackers clickbait and scams, pop-ups and overall makes your online experiences way more pleasant. The extension can be installed on Firefox, Google Chrome & Edge.
The test results of URL blocking were quite good, and out of 100 malware samples, it has blocked 98% of them. However, the test also shows that the browser guard blocks some reputable websites (false positives).
Sometimes, it can block websites that you didn’t want to be blocked. In that case, you can go to the settings and manage security approvals for a specific website. That way, you will add a website to an “Allow list” without compromising your safety on other pages.
- In the Browser Guard GUI, click the hamburger menu icon (the three vertical dots next to the gear icon).
- In the dropdown menu, click Allow list.
- Here you can specify the site(s) that the exception will apply to in the form of a URL or an IP address.
“An exploit is a piece of software, a chunk of data, or sequence of commands that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability in order to cause unintended or unanticipated behavior to occur on computer software, hardware, or something electronic (usually computerized).”
Those attacks are complex and have several different ways of penetrating your device. Most of the products available are ineffective against exploits because of their reactive nature or excessive complexity of those tools.
Malwarebytes prevents those attacks by shielding popular websites and browsers, so instead of reacting to an exploit that’s already in the system, it protects you from getting it in the first place. Once an exploit is detected, Malwarebytes automatically stops malicious code from executing.
Virtual Private Network
Malwarebytes offers a VPN feature, but it only comes with Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy package. By using a VPN, you can connect to the Internet through 300 servers covering 30 countries. Let’s be honest – it’s not enough and this feature isn’t going to replace a leading VPN in any way. So, if you plan on heavily using VPN for, say, bypassing censorship or some local regulations – consider purchasing a full-fledged VPN. Unfortunately, Malwarebytes VPN isn’t available in highly regulated countries.
It also lacks a kill switch feature that means your internet connection will be active even if the VPN connection is lost, so be careful.
Malwarebytes does not allow users to torrent the copyright materials, and if anyone does, the company disables or terminates their account. Malwarebytes doesn’t intend to compete with leading VPNs so doesn’t any other antivirus solution. But it’s good enough as an additional layer of security or for occasional usage.
Can Malwarebytes’s tools stop phishing attacks?
Phishing essentially is a simple way to lure users into clicking on a certain link. Those attacks fool users, often successfully, by posing as banks, retailers, gaming sites, etc. Malwarebytes website states that they stop phishing attacks as it is embedded with multiple layers of security. It detects malicious links in emails, and blocks them to protect you from attackers. However, according to some of the latest reports, Malwarebytes performed poorly in blocking such attacks compared to their stronger competitors and blocked around 90% of phishing attacks.
To be completely honest, it is very hard to prevent and predict phishing attacks altogether since outrageous numbers of new phishing websites are created every day and you, as a user, need to protect yourself by not suspicious emails and try to enter your credentials only on websites that you’re familiar with. It also helps to have a separate email that you’re going to use for your banking app and don’t use it for registering anywhere else.
Can Malwarebytes be trusted to protect you against ransomware?
Ransomware is one form of malware that obstructs you from accessing your files or folders, and the attackers demand payment if you want to regain access to your files. Ransomware started in the late 80s, and at that time, the ransom was snail email, but today the way to get money is through credit cards or cryptocurrency.
Malwarebytes implements three strategies to protect you against ransomware:
- Prevention technologies: Proactively searches for suspicious files and software and prevents them from remotely execute code on the endpoint.
- Detection technologies: uses Machine Learning to identify suspicious executables.
- Uses Ransomware Clock back technology to ‘rewind’ ransomware and give you some time to restore a healthy backup.
All in all, Malwarebytes provides pretty solid protection against ransomware, but this feature is only available with the premium version, and if you are using the free version, the software won’t be able to do anything even if you fall victim to ransomware.
What’s your experience with Malwarebytes and its malware protection?
Malwarebytes uses all the modern techniques to detect and eliminate malware, including both database and Machine Learning. Malwarebytes wasn’t tested by reputable labs even just a couple of years ago. But in 2020 and 2021 security-testing labs like AV-Comparatives, SE Labs and others started including it into their reports as one of the more reliable products to protect devices against various threats.
However, many researching centers, state that Malwarebytes needs some additional work on its anti-phishing protection.
Our experience with Malwarebytes was nothing but pleasant. It detected almost every single threat that was introduced to it. On top of that, it doesn’t flood your computer with tons of unnecessary apps and plugins. It’s a lightweight application that we find perfectly capable of protecting personal computers. One thing that I find a little bit disappointing is that Malwarebytes tends to generate false-positive results more often than its closest competitors, but this is easily manageable in the settings.
Additional Features of Malwarebytes
Malwarebytes focuses on core security features and invests heavily in implementing new cybersecurity features. But, if you are looking for any bonus features in Malwarebytes, such as password manager, parental control, safe browser, or banking protection, then you are out of luck. In fact, Malwarebytes made a statement about Parental Control apps that aren’t really different from stalkerware on a technological level. They say that while it creates a certain level of peace of mind for parents, it definitely creates additional cybersecurity risks. Read a full article here.
With that being said, not every single user needs those fancy features and most of us are just looking for one thing – being safe online. The lack of some advanced features is what allows Malwarebytes to stay lightweight, user-friendly and easy to manage.
Lab Test Results
In past years, Malwarebytes lab test results weren’t good, but in Oct 2020, the company gained the top rank in the list of antivirus products. This is because Malwarebytes went for tests in two premier cybersecurity testing institutions, i.e., AV-test and SE lab.
The AV-test sets the parameters of antivirus and classifies them into three groups: Protection, Usability, and Performance. To each group, 6 points can be allocated, amounting up to a total of 18 points can be gained by antivirus programs. Malwarebytes scored 18 out of 18, which shows this antivirus meets all the essential parameters to secure a computer.
In the SE lab, various antivirus products are checked based on a real malware attack. The lab sets the grade such as AAA, AA, A, B, and C, and based on the performance. The antivirus gets the grade. Malwarebytes got a B grade in the SE lab test, and this is an average performance – meaning it will slow down your computer but it provides good overall protection.
According to AV-Comparatives, Malwarebytes slows down your computer only during program installation and application launching.
Regarding the antivirus efficiency, Malwarebytes was able to block 733 out of 736 different threats carefully picked by testers to represent a large sample of known threats. That’s a great result, although Malwarebytes test results came back with many false positives.
Is it safe to use for business purposes?
A business’s cybersecurity is essential regardless of its size because data and credentials are critical, and if they are compromised, companies will face considerable losses. Malwarebytes understands the need for sufficient security in business and thus offers advanced protection layers of technology to safeguard the business. Yes, it is entirely safe to use for business purposes as it offers great features listed below.
Malware Endpoint Detection and Response
This Malwarebytes feature continuously monitors the activities, and if any unforeseen malware tries to enter, the Endpoint Detection feature detects and blocks it. The additional features include multiple layer protection, threats insights, endpoint isolation, and file rollback.
The advanced layer protection offers endpoint protection to businesses from emerging and existing threats. Malwarebytes also offers a cloud-based management system to enhance the security of a business.
Malwarebytes keeps an eye on the cyberattacks and threats and blocks four million threats every day. This shows that Malwarebytes is safe to use for businesses to secure the credentials from attackers.
So, what’s the price of the standard annual subscription package?
The price of a standard annual subscription package depends on the number of devices you are going to use. The price also varies for personal and business usage. So, let’s see the comprehensive details of the Malwarebytes subscription packages.
If you need to secure only one device, you will have to spend only $39/year. With this package, you will get real-time protection, decryption of encrypted ransomware, and malware elimination.
However, if you want to use more than one device, get an $80/year package and get advanced security features on the side. The features are removal of malware, protection against ransomware and harmful sites.
Malwarebytes is currently offering the best deal, Premium + Privacy, which will cost you $99/year. With that deal, you will get additional features to secure your privacy and the rest of the features of premium plans.
There are also multiple categories of business packages available. Which one is right for your business depends on the number of devices you plan on using. For instance, if you run a business with nine computers or less, then the $49.99/device/year package is the way to go. This plan is suitable for small companies or the ones that are just getting started.
The next plan is Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection that will secure your business from advanced threats. The price of the plan is $69.99/year, and you can run up to nine devices on this plan.
If you need prevention and remediation of malware for your small business, then Malwarebytes Endpoint Detection and Response is good for you. To access it, you will have to spend $84.99/device/year.
Similar plans also exist for multiple devices. For instance, if you have a larger business with 100 computers, this package will also work, but the features may differ. Malwarebytes also provides server plans, and the basic plan is Endpoint Protection for Servers, and it will cost you $249.99/device/year. However, if you go with the Endpoint Detection and Response for Server plan, you need to spend $299.99/device/year.
What About Payment Methods?
Malwarebytes offers multiple ways to purchase its products. The payment methods include Credit Card, Wire Transfer, and PayPal. Once you have reached the billing page of Malwarebytes, you will find the payment options at the top-right corner of the page.
Is Malwarebytes slowing down your computer?
Partially, it does just because of the clash between applications and Malwarebytes, and sometimes even spybots slow down the computer. But if you are facing that situation, then download and install Malwarebytes Support Tool. With its help, you will get many options to speed up the computer.
Does it have a Mac-specific app?
Yes, Malwarebytes supports the macOS. People believe that Mac devices are immune against viruses, and they won’t get affected. But in the past few years, hackers have been targeting more Mac users.
In 2017, the Malwarebytes team identified nearly 270 unique malware pieces on Mac devices, and this shows that Mac’s immunity is weaker, and the attackers are able to penetrate Apple devices now. Considering the above data and safety of Mac users, Malwarebytes launched Mac-specific apps. The basic plan is free of charge, but the premium one is chargeable.
Malwarebytes Mobile Software
We perform dozens of activities on our smartphones every day like shopping, checking bank statements, transferring money to our friends and so on, that’s why we end up storing bank details and personal credentials on the phone. But when the phone is hacked, all the data is on the line of danger. So protecting your smartphone can be even more crucial than protecting your PC.
Intending to secure the data of smartphone users, Malwarebytes provides mobile software for them. The software is lightweight and will help the users to secure the device. The features are limited compared to Windows or Mac OS, but they are sufficient to safeguard the device.
What is Malwarebytes Customer Support Like?
Malwarebytes Customer Support is pretty mediocre. It doesn’t provide instant and effective service. No doubt, your issue will get resolved, but it takes time. If you are facing a problem, your first move is to connect with chatbots. You will get guidance from the knowledge base, which means bots will respond to you with the answer featured in the article.
However, if you are not satisfied with the solution, you can register a ticket with the assistance of bots. The ticket will help you get connected with the Malwarebytes email support team, and they will resolve the query within 24 hours. On Malwarebytes defense, that’s an industry-standard practice.
Malwarebytes’s Pros and Cons
Let’s sum up the main advantages and disadvantages of Malwarebytes.
- It is very efficient in detecting and blocking severe threats.
- The database is up to date, and it uses Machine learning technologies to fight viruses and other malware
- The lab test results are best in class, and this proves how efficiently it safeguards your computer.
- The free version comes with limited features, and real-time protection isn’t available.
- The phone support isn’t available, and because of it, users can’t get an instant solution to fix an issue.
- Lack of firewall feature.
Can you run Malwarebytes as the only virus protection on your computer?
To secure the computer, most of the users install antivirus, but there is no difference between anti-malware and antivirus. Both are designed to protect the computer against harmful threats. So, Malwarebytes is sufficient to safeguard any computer, and no additional antivirus is needed.
Malwarebytes gives you security against cyberattacks as it gives you protection from ransomware, malware, browsing activities, and much more. On top of that, it follows heuristic analysis that analyzes the web page to identify the viruses and monitor the applications.
If you are willing to move on to other options, it’s best to look for the lab tests of antiviruses as they give you a clear picture of the product’s performance. If you go with the AV-test result, then Norton Antivirus and Kaspersky got 17.5 out of 18, which is great.
However, if you go with the SE lab test result, you will find that Avast, AVG, and Avira bagged the highest grading points. So, based on these lab test results, you can choose any one of these antiviruses to secure your computer. However, it’s best to go with Kaspersky or Norton Antivirus for enhanced performance and advanced security features.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need antivirus protection?
How to Uninstall Malwarebytes?
- Open the search bar and type Control Panel, and then hit the Enter key.
- Inside the Panel, click on the Programs section.
- Soon, you will get a list of installed applications on your computer, scroll down the page and select Malwarebytes.
- Next, click on the Uninstall button located at the top of the menu bar.
- After that, a pop-up window will appear for the confirmation. Click on the Yes button.
- That's it. Within a short time, Malwarebytes will be removed from your computer.
- Make sure to restart your computer.