Malwarebytes (Anti-Malware), an anti-malware tools that has typically been recommended as a “second opinion” scanner (the first being the anti-virus) is now at version 3.0. Its company claimed its complete layered security approach should now be able to fully replace your antivirus.
Like many other security solutions these days, Malwarebytes 3.0 incorporates multiple layers of defense against all sorts of malware. However, the new Malwarebytes software includes the company’s own anti-exploit software, as well as its anti-ransomware protection, that was until recently in beta.
One of the stand-out features of Malwarebytes 3.0 is its anti-exploit protection, which essentially guards some of the most popular applications, including browsers, office suites, and PDF readers, against exploits that use memory corruption bugs and other such vulnerabilities.
Those vulnerabilities are often called “zero-days” because they are unknown to anyone but the attacker, which means a regular signature-based antivirus program wouldn’t be able to stop it. However, Malwarebytes’ anti-exploit feature can defeat attacks by checking application behavior, looking for memory corruption bugs, and stopping OS protection bypasses.
Ransomware continues to be an increasingly bigger problem, not just for individuals, but also for universities, hospitals, and government agencies. Ransomware infects users just like regular malware does: either by taking advantage of some vulnerabilities in the browser and the operating system that allows it to auto-download and auto-install on a user’s PC, or by getting the user to click on an infected file through email phishing or by infecting ad networks.
What makes ransomware more dangerous than regular malware is that it can lock a user’s computer storage, which may contain important files that weren’t backed up. Many users may then feel helpless and forced to pay the ransom. Most other malware just sits there, is used to make the PC part of a botnet, shows some pop-ups, or slows down and crashes the operating system. All of those seem rather harmless compared to ransomware.
When the Malwarebytes company announced its Anti-Ransomware tool in beta, earlier this year, it described it as follows:
“Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware monitors all activity in the computer and identifies actions which are typical of ransomware activity,” said the company in the announcement.
“It keeps track of all activity and, once it has enough evidence to determine a certain process or thread to be ransomware, blocks the infection and quarantines the ransomware before it has a chance to encrypt users' files.
During development Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware has blocked every single ransomware variant we have thrown at it. We are extremely satisfied with its results and are excited to bring this technology to our user community for further testing,” it added.
Due to a rewriting of its scanning architecture, Malwarebytes can now also scan operating systems four times faster than before--and it was already one of the fastest anti-malware scanning tools around. The website protection and threat remediation features will also be carried over from Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
No Antivirus Needed?
The company noted that the majority of malware detection already seems to come from tools such as its anti-exploit and anti-ransomware features--not from signature-based antivirus programs--and that this trend will only grow. That’s why it believes that the new Malwarebytes 3.0 should now offer sufficient protections for users to the point where they won’t even need an antivirus anymore.
Time will tell if Malwarebytes’ claim is true. Antiviruses aren’t needed, in theory, as long as you always update your computer and applications as soon as they receive an update. However, not everyone does that, and for those who do not, Malwarebytes 3.0 will have to prove that its malware-catching algorithms work at least most of the time, if not all the time, against both known and existing threats, as well as new “zero-day” threats.
By combining its main anti-malware tools into one, Malwarebytes also made some changes to pricing. Malwarebytes 3.0 will cost new customers $39.99 per year, which is up from the previous $24.95 for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (Anti-Ransomware beta was free). All existing customers will be grandfathered in at their original prices.
Users not convinced by Malwarebytes’ claims or those may simply want to try an alternative can also take a look at HitmanPro.Alert or Zemana AntiMalware, which offer many of the same features (and sometimes more).