Is it Safe to Use Malwarebytes?
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Kick hackers to the curb Malwarebytes for Windows Premium is a comprehensive cybersecurity program that crushes established and emerging threats before they can disrupt your digital lifestyle. So you can play, shop, and socialize online with peace of mind. What it does for you Protects you from emerging threats Detects and removes malware in real-time with advanced anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-rootkit technology. Protects your files from being locked and held for ransom Stops unknown and known ransomware with proprietary technology that works proactively to shield your files. This is a powerful, complete defense that blocks ransomware, and not a simple decryption tool.
They both refer to software designed to detect, protect against, and remove malicious software. Contrary to what the name might suggest, antivirus software protects against more than viruses—it just uses a slightly antiquated name to describe what it does. Anti-malware just uses a more modern name that encompasses all kinds of malicious software, including viruses. That being said, anti-malware can stop a viral infection form happening and remove infected files.
The attack might occur on your hardware or software, or through social engineering. Cybersecurity threats and their countermeasures are varied and nuanced nowadays, but the marketplace naturally strives for simplicity when communicating to consumers. In reality, viruses are just one type of cyberthreat that happened to be popular when computers were in their infancy.
A computer or PC virus is a piece of usually harmful software defined by two characteristics: It needs to be initiated by an unsuspecting user. Triggering a virus can be as simple as opening a malicious email malspam attachment or launching an infected program. It must be self-replicating.
Either way, the resulting file must show the same behavior as the original virus. Computer viruses have been around for decades. Early viruses occurred on pre-personal computer platforms in the s.
However, the history of modern viruses begins with a program called Elk Cloner , which started infecting Apple II systems in Disseminated via infected floppy disks, the virus itself was harmless, but it spread to all disks attached to a system. It spread so quickly that most cybersecurity experts consider it the first large-scale computer virus outbreak in history. Early viruses like Elk Cloner were mostly designed as pranks. Their creators were in it for notoriety and bragging rights.
However, by the early s, adolescent mischief had evolved into harmful intent. PC users experienced an onslaught of viruses designed to destroy data, slow down system resources, and log keystrokes also known as a keylogger. The need for countermeasures led to the development of the first antivirus software programs. Early antivirus programs were exclusively reactive. They could only detect infections after they took place. Moreover, the first antivirus programs identified viruses by the relatively primitive technique of looking for their signature characteristics.
However, if the attacker changed the file name, the antivirus might not be as effective. While early antivirus software could also recognize specific digital fingerprints or patterns, such as code sequences in network traffic or known harmful instruction sequences, they were always playing catch up.
Early antiviruses using signature-based strategies could easily detect known viruses, but they were unable to detect new attacks. Instead, a new virus had to be isolated and analyzed to determine its signature, and subsequently added to the list of known viruses. The antivirus user had to regularly download an ever-growing database file consisting of hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Even so, new viruses that got out ahead of database updates left a significant percentage of devices unprotected. The result was a constant race to keep up with the evolving landscape of threats as new viruses were created and released into the wild. Current status of computer viruses and antivirus programs PC viruses today are more of a legacy threat than an ongoing risk to computer users.
It boils down to entrenched name recognition. Viruses made sensational headlines in the 90s, and security companies began using it as shorthand for cyberthreats in general. They hide deeper in our computer systems and are more adept at evading detection. As these new attack categories emerged and evolved beyond early viruses, antivirus companies continued their mission against these new threats.
However, antivirus companies were unsure how to categorize themselves. Or was it a better to take an all-inclusive approach, and combine everything in a single product line that addressed all threats? The answers to these questions depends on the antivirus company. At Malwarebytes, cybersecurity is our highest-level catchall category. Viruses are just one kind of malware. Though viruses still exist, there are other forms of malware that are more common these days. For example, here are several common threats that Malwarebytes can stop: Adware is unwanted software designed to throw advertisements up on your screen, most often within a web browser, but sometimes within mobile apps as well.
Typically, it either disguises itself as legitimate, or piggybacks on another program to trick you into installing it on your PC, tablet, or mobile device. A virus is malware that attaches to another program and, when triggered, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and infecting them with its own bits of code.
A Trojan , or Trojan horse, is more of a delivery method for infections rather than an infection itself. The Trojan represents itself as something useful in order to trick users into opening it. Trojan attacks can carry just about any form of malware, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware. The code for a ransomware attack is easy to obtain through online criminal marketplaces, and defending against it is difficult. A rootkit is malware that provides the attacker with administrator privileges on the infected system and actively hides from the normal computer user.
Rootkits also hide from other software on the system—even from the operating system itself. Malicious cryptomining , also sometimes called drive-by mining or cryptojacking , is an increasingly prevalent form of malware or browser-based attack that is delivered through multiple attack methods, including malspam, drive-by downloads, and rogue apps and extensions.
Among other threats, exploits are linked to malvertising , an attack that uses malicious ads on mostly legitimate websites to deliver exploits. All you have to do is visit a good site on the wrong day. How does anti-malware work? The old school method of signature-based threat detection is effective to a degree, but modern anti-malware also detects threats using newer methods that look for malicious behavior.
Modern anti-malware takes detection a step further so it can identify threats it has never seen before. This newer, more effective cybersecurity technology is called heuristic analysis. All the while, it looks for things like unusual instructions or junk code. In this way, it assesses the likelihood that the program contains malware. In other words, heuristics-enabled anti-malware is proactive, not reactive. Some anti-malware products can also run the suspected malware in a sandbox, which is a controlled environment in which the security software can determine whether a program is safe to deploy or not.
Running malware in a sandbox lets the anti-malware look at what the software does, the actions it performs, and whether it tries to hide itself or compromise your computer.
Another way heuristic analytics helps keep users safe is by analyzing web page characteristics in order to identify risky sites that might contain exploits. If it recognizes something fishy, it blocks the site.
In brief, signature-based antivirus is like a bouncer at the nightclub door, carrying a thick book of mug shots and booting anyone that matches.
Heuristic analysis is the bouncer who looks for suspicious behavior, pats people down, and sends home the ones carrying a weapon. Though these threats are similar to others in many ways, they can be much harder to detect. Exploits get their name because they literally exploit vulnerabilities in a system, software, or web browser in order to install malicious code in a variety of ways.
Anti-exploit measures were developed as a shield against this method of attack, protecting against Flash exploits and browser weaknesses, including new exploits that have not been identified or vulnerabilities for which patches have not yet been created.
Ransomware emerged on the malware scene to spectacular effect in Ransomware made a name for itself by hijacking and encrypting computer data, and then extorting payments as it held the data hostage. Originally, both these threats resulted in the development of dedicated anti-exploit and anti-ransomware products. Since December , Malwarebytes folded anti-exploit and malicious website protection into the premium version of Malwarebytes for Windows , and has since added anti-ransomware for even more advanced anti-malware protection.
The future of cybersecurity programs which is already here Artificial intelligence AI and machine learning ML are the latest stars in anti-malware technology. AI allows machines to perform tasks for which they are not specifically pre-programmed.
AI does not blindly execute a limited set of commands. Put another way, AI focuses on building smart machines, while ML uses algorithms that allow the machines to learn from experience. Both these technologies are a perfect fit for cybersecurity, especially since the number and variety of threats coming in every day are too overwhelming for signature-based methods or other manual measures.
Both AI and ML are still in developmental phases, but they hold immense promise. In the case of business IT professionals with multiple endpoints to secure, the heuristic approach is especially important. We never know what the next big malware threat will be. Together, they create multiple layers of protection that address all stages of the attack chain for both known and unknown threats. An ounce of prevention vs. Traditional antivirus alone is not up to the task, as evidenced by the regular stream of newspaper headlines reporting yet another successful cyberattack.
So what should you do to stay safe? What kind of cybersecurity software—antivirus or anti-malware—should one choose to address a threat landscape that consists of legacy viruses and emerging malware? The fact is, traditional antivirus alone is not up to the task, as evidenced by the regular stream of newspaper headlines reporting yet another successful cyberattack. Malwarebytes for Windows fulfills this need for advanced cybersecurity along with Malwarebytes for Mac , Malwarebytes for Android , and Malwarebytes business solutions.
Malwarebytes products protect against malware, hacks , viruses, ransomware, and other ever-evolving threats to help support a safe online experience. Industry watchers have cited Malwarebytes for Windows for its role in a layered protection approach, providing reliable protection without degrading system performance. It removes all traces of malware, blocks the latest threats, and performs scans fast.
Regardless of the cybersecurity you choose, your first line of defense is education. Stay up to date on the latest threats and protection by making the Malwarebytes Labs blog a regular read. Share this page: Cybersecurity info you can’t do without Want to stay informed on the latest news in cybersecurity? Sign up for our newsletter and learn how to protect your computer from threats.
Kick hackers to the curb
They both refer to software designed to detect, protect against, and remove malicious software. Contrary to what the name might suggest, antivirus software protects against more than viruses—it just uses a slightly antiquated name to describe what it does. Anti-malware just uses a more modern name that encompasses all kinds of malicious software, including viruses. That being said, anti-malware can stop a viral infection form happening and remove infected files. The attack might occur on your hardware or software, or through social engineering.
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