Security

Malware scanners: MBAM is best of breed

TechRepublic members have been asking about malware scanners. Which ones work? Are they safe to download? I'd like to share what I consider my favorite scanner and why I like it.

As I see it, there are three axioms when it comes to malware removal:

  1. Malware coders will be ahead of the curve at all times.
  2. Malware is not important until it causes a problem.
  3. Just because a malware removal tool worked once, doesn't mean it will work again.

That sounds discouraging, doesn't it? Well, I'm happy to say that I've found a product that's become my malware fighter du jour. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware (MBAM) is the scanner that keeps malware off my computers and the one that I immediately use when trying to wrestle malware from unknown computers.

MBAM the total package

A few months ago, several members made mention of a program called MBAM and how well it worked at finding malware. I'm sure glad I paid attention, because it's a great scanner. By far, MBAM has the best success rate of the many scanners I've tried. MBAM comes in either the free version or the full version. The Malwarebytes Web site mentions that the full version has the following added features:

"The Real-time Protection Module uses our advanced heuristic scanning technology which monitors your system to keep it safe and secure. In addition, we have implemented a threats center, which will allow you to keep up to date with the latest malware threats. Activating the full version unlocks real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating."

The free version has met my needs completely, since it's a specific tool that I'm using to remove malware. Still for only $24.95 US, the added benefit of the full version of MBAM running on a computer in the background may be a good way to get some peace of mind.

Simple to use

MBAM has a very simple user interface that even makes sense to me.

mbam1.JPG

While researching MBAM, I ran across a very useful tip from Samuel Dean on the WebWorkersDaily Web site. The following quote is from his "Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware Ferrets Out the Hidden Gunk" blog post:

"One piece of advice before you run this program: Go into any browsers you have loaded on your system and delete any saved temporary Internet files (available through the Tools menu of the popular browsers). The reason is that Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware does a highly thorough scan of your files even if you choose its Quick Scan choice instead of Full Scan."

It does make a difference, especially on some of the monster hard drives that are now being used.

Remember the third axiom

I consider MBAM the heavy hitter of all general-purpose malware scanners. Still, I've seen MBAM miss malware, in particular rootkits. To help in that regard, I wrote an article "Rootkits: Is Removing Them Even Possible?" which featured many qualified rootkit detection and removal applications. If hard pressed, I'd recommend GMER as my first choice for detecting rootkits.

Final thoughts

I continually hope for a magical application that once installed on a computer will give the user assurance that all is good. It's not quite there yet, and on many occasions more than one program or even an operating system reload will be required. For example, I'd like you to check out Swatkat's blog post "Zlob Fake Codec Rootkit Removal Procedure," where both GMER and MBAM were required.

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