Malwarebytes Review

by Christo Petrov

Viruses are a thing of the past… Wait, what?

If they’re thing of the past, why does TechJury have a whole section about antivirus?

Because “antivirus” is really “antimalware.” Years ago, antivirus software’s main job was to clean your hard disk. 

Nowadays, antivirus products have to protect you from much more sophisticated types of malware, and this is usually done in real-time, before the malicious code damages your machine.

Malwarebytes is one of the brands that stick to the “who-needs-antivirus” mantra. 

Keep reading this Malwarebytes review to find out why.

Price 

Malwarebytes Premium costs $39.99 per year for 1 device. You can pay $69.98 for a 2-year license, in which case the price for a year falls to $34.99. 

You could go for the Malwarebytes Premium For Home option, which gives you the freedom to add more devices to your license and costs $59.99 per year.

Free Version

Is Malwarebytes free?” seems to be a common question among PC users. The suite does have a free version, but it comes with limited functionality compared to the premium product. 

With the free variant you are missing a lot of valuable tools like ransomware protection, safe browsing, and prevent spyware infections, to mention a few. Heck, you can’t even schedule a scan, you have to do it manually!

Still, a circumscribed antivirus software is better than no antivirus software at all. The free Malwarebytes gives you a tool to check your device for infections, which is a nice start, but it’s not enough to keep you safe. 

You can opt for a 14-day trial version of Malwarebytes. It gives you all the functionalities of the premium version and some time to mess around with the software, get a feel of its user interface, and decide if you want to buy. 

If you decide not to buy, after the end of the trial period you are left with the Malwarebytes free version

Requirements

Malwarebytes’s executable file is just over 60 MB, so you can expect that this antivirus will be rather humble when it comes to system requirements. 

You can run the program even if you have a Windows XP machine. And because this is a Malwarebytes review, let me give you some security advice. 

It is not a smart move to rely on Windows XP in 2019. This OS is outdated and has hundreds of critical vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

To wrap it up, the antivirus will run on Windows XP and Windows Vista, but please keep in mind that the Malwarebytes antimalware protection is not supported on these two operating systems. 

A proper Malwarebytes installation will also require an 800 MHz CPU, 2GB RAM, and around 250 MB of free disk space. 

But why are system requirements so low? Because Malwarebytes believes that antivirus technology is not effective anymore. That technology relies on signature-based detection methods and requires a database that takes up space on the user’s device. 

Instead, Malwarebytes monitors the system for suspicious behavior. It does so by using real-world data, making it possible to detect malware types a traditional antivirus wouldn’t. 

Because it doesn’t use traditional AV technology, Malwarebytes requires fewer system resources.

Installation

Installation is easy. All you have to do is download Malwarebytes and enter the license key (if you are paying for Malwarebytes Premium). 

No registration is required, neither is an initial complex configuration.

User Interface

Malwarebytes’s interface might confuse you at first glance. 

The dashboard is quite informative: you’ve got a big Scan Now button in the center of the screen. To the right you can see the Malwarebytes software’s real-time protection configuration: web, exploit, malware, and ransomware protection. 

But it’s not the dashboard that causes bewilderment. That comes later, when you realize that most of the software’s features are gathered in the Settings tab. Scrolling up and down and trying to figure out which does what can be annoying for a first-time user. 

Moving on with the Malwarebytes review. All the scanning options are available in the Scan tab. There are 3 types of scan: Threat, Hyper, and Custom scan. 

From this tab, you can also schedule a scan. Other than the usual schedules (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.), there is an option to schedule a scan for a specific day. 

While it’s not the greatest customization in the cybersecurity industry, it is something that I couldn’t find in other antivirus suites. 

Features

This Malwarebytes Premium review might disappoint you if you’re expecting to read about a heavily armed antivirus product. Malwarebytes does have great protective functions but lacks tools like payment protection, content filtering, or data encryption.

Ransomware Protection

Ransomware is one of the top threats for individual users and organizations. Malwarebytes’s built-in ransomware protection aims to detect and stop attacks before it is too late. 

Like I mentioned earlier, ransomware protection is not available for users with Windows XP or Windows Vista. If you want Malwarebytes for PC to help you fight ransomware, be sure to update your OS.

Malware Protection

The malware protection feature snoops for any malicious code that is trying to execute on your machine. But Malwarebytes also tracks non-malware code like potentially unwanted programs.

This could be an adware that is not harmful by itself but will slow down your device or bombard you with malicious code. For example, hackers use adware to install cryptocurrency miners on their victims’ machines. 

Web & Exploit Protection

This Malwarebytes premium review continues with the software’s web and exploits protection. Malwarebytes blocks access to internet addresses that are known to be involved in suspicious activity. That’s how the suite protects you from threats like phishing or websites that serve malware. 

The exploit filter protects your device from known software vulnerabilities. Exploits are hard to detect by the traditional layers of antivirus protection. 

That’s why the filter launches every time you start an application. If an exploit is detected, the filter blocks it.

Scanning for Viruses

All this sounds great, but is Malwarebytes good in handling threats? To figure this out, I must first know how Malwarebytes behaves during scanning. 

It is a light suite, so a single scan shouldn’t take much time or impact system performance. 

A threat scan (which is recommended by Malwarebytes) finished in less than a minute. 

The hyper scan, which is Malwarebytes’ equivalent of a quick scan, was even faster. It completed scanning in about 15 seconds. 

For this Malwarebytes review, I tried a custom scan, which checks memory objects, registry settings, and archives. It also tries to identify rootkits. 

Finding rootkits is time-consuming; that’s why a custom scan took nearly 77 minutes. It found a problem with one of the files, but it turned out to be a false positive. 

Real-time Protection

What does Malwarebytes do to protect you from real-time threats? The suite has a good set of protective filters that, in theory, should keep your device safe. So let’s put them to the test!

Phishing Protection: 8/10

Malwarebytes did relatively well in recognizing phishing websites. While it failed to detect a couple of phishing pages, it did what it was supposed to do and marked all the newest samples I could find on the internet. 

Parental Control Protection

Alas, Malwarebytes has no parental control feature. You can get website filtering only if their addresses are suspicious or known to cause trouble. 

Ransomware Protection

What does Malwarebytes do when it encounters ransomware? 

I ran a ransomware simulator on the test laptop, and Malwarebytes stopped the code from executing. 

I know, I know: a simulator is no substitute for a real-world ransomware attack. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of malware types, and they are constantly evolving. An antiransomware feature will have a tough time detecting all of them. 

Downloading the EICAR Test File

Malwarebytes was able to recognize the harmless EICAR virus instantly. I tested it with two versions of the file: a downloadable and an archived one. The software was infallible both times.

Independent Lab Test

Is Malwarebytes Premium worth it according to independent research lab AV-Test?  The suite got a 5.5 / 6 score in the German institute’s April report

The independent research lab-tested Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 and measured a 100% success rate for detecting zero-day malware attacks, out of 277 samples. 

This is a considerable improvement from the March report, in which Malwarebytes’s success rate stood at 99.2%. 

The antivirus didn’t do so well in detecting over 6500 samples of widespread malware. The success rate was 99.5%, which is lower than the industry average of 100%. 

Customer Support

Is Malwarebytes good with customer support? The company offers a few communication channels, the most convenient of them being the live chat support. Unfortunately, it is not 24/7, and I had problems talking to an agent because the connection kept timing out.

You can also send a ticket. I tried it and received answers in a couple of hours. 

Other than that, Malwarebytes relies on its community to help customers. The community forum is the place to ask questions and get answers from other users and experts. 

Conclusion

Malwarebytes’s layers of protection are a strong ally against malware. 

Like Webroot, it uses an unorthodox detection model, making it a fast and sound malware detector. 

This concludes TechJury’s Malwarebytes review

Until next time!

Pros: 

  • A light and fast security solution
  • Many protective layers, including for rootkit protection

Cons: 

  • Lacks features like parental controls and data encryption which are present in similarly priced products
  • User Interface might be hard to grasp for first-time users

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