Malwarebytes has built a reputation on being able to detect and remove cutting-edge malware from computers- malware that other security platforms are not even detecting. Malwarebytes now extends that same protection to Android devices with the release of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile (MBAM Mobile).
Security pundits have been warning that it’s only a matter of time before all sorts of digital havoc begin assaulting mobile devices, particularly those using Android operating systems. To fill the void, there is a plethora of security apps, free and paid versions, for Android users to choose from. The mobile-security app Lookout would be a good example, currently protecting over 30 million mobile devices.
MBAM Mobile features
First and foremost, what Malwarebytes brings to the table is proven expertise. More often than not, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the first solution suggested to rid computers of malware. That same expertise created MBAM Mobile. Here are some of the more tangible features employed by MBAM Mobile:
Privacy Manager: Identifies every application's access privileges in detail, and breaks down access privileges by category: Contacts, Identity Information, Simple Message Service, and Security Settings.
Security Audit: Identifies security vulnerabilities on mobile devices, and suggests remediation. Links seamlessly to Android Device Manager: so the device can be located, locked, or reset if the mobile device is lost or stolen.
Application Manager: Identifies which applications are currently running, identifies installed applications, and enables custom whitelisting of approved apps.
For the entire list of MBAM Mobile features, please visit this webpage.
MBAM Mobile advantages
The MBAM Mobile press release mentioned that a custom-built detection engine similar to one used in their other products powered MBAM Mobile. I contacted Marcin Kleczynski, CEO and founder of Malwarebytes, and asked if he would explain what, if anything, is special about MBAM Mobile’s detection engine:
“For MBAM Mobile, we wrote all our own code and built our own malware signature database from scratch. That way we knew the database was accurate and relevant. And, we included only the essential security features.”
Next, Marcin explained something I was unaware of:
The native Android Device Manager already takes care of the phone location features typically found in mobile-security products, so it didn’t make sense to add those. The core is antimalware, with a couple other features that can detect apps that are violating your privacy or tracking your physical location.
Several times now, Marcin has mentioned that MBAM Mobile (free version only) is a no-frills application, strictly about getting rid of malware. Even so, MBAM Mobile offers features that other mobile-security apps do not in their free versions. For example, MBAM Mobile offers Privacy Manager, while other mobile-security apps require the user to purchase the premium version in order to get the privacy management feature.
What MBAM Mobile lacks
Several of the tech media outlets have mirrored what Marcin has been saying, calling MBAM Mobile lean. It might be interesting to see what is missing from MBAM Mobile when compared to other mobile security apps.
I’ll use Lookout as an example once again. Lookout backs up mobile-device data, employs online mobile device management, and will automatically take a user-facing picture if the number of log in attempts exceeds the configured amount. To be honest, I was surprised that MBAM Mobile wasn’t including these features.
I asked Marcin about the lack of features in MBAM Mobile. Here’s what he had to say:
“Our product is different in that it is simple and fulfills just a handful of purposes, allowing us to focus on actually detecting and protecting against malware, not features here and there that other products throw in to dilute themselves. Our focus is anti-malware, that's it.”
Marcin mentioning that MBAM Mobile’s sole focus is antimalware reminded me of how I use MBAM for computers—as a supplement to my antivirus program. I asked Marcin if that’s what he had in mind when he developed MBAM Mobile. He said it was:
“We are indeed a complementary tool like MBAM for Windows. We are here to help your anti-virus out. We are working to be compatible with all other software on the Android device.”
Final thoughtsQuite simply, it’s a Malwarebytes product. It’s going to be good. The question then becomes whether you want lean and mean or feature-rich—actually, why not both?
Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, he runs MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.