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How Does Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware Stand Up Against Norton and McAfee?

posted Jul 14, 2011, 8:30 AM by Nathan Eliason   [ updated Jul 14, 2011, 8:32 AM ]

So, you just spent 50-70 bucks on the latest and greatest in anti-virus complete protection, but now you know you're completely safe from all the horrible things on the internet, right? Think again.

So, first of all, what is malware? According to Wikipedia, it is " programming designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior." In English, that means a program that, without your knowledge or permission, accesses your computer and steals personal information, messing up how your PC works in the process. It's basically your run-of-the-mill virus, a sneaky thing that may just watch what websites you visit, or may steal your credit card number next time you shop online. Malware actually stands for malicious software.

So how do we protect ourselves from this evil lurking on the web? We spend money on programs that set up a defense against viruses. Big names like McAfee, Symantec's Norton, and Kaspersky are the first ones to hit our minds, and some of the "premium" and more expensive programs to protect us. And then there's Anti-Malware form Malwarebytes, a free program that may indeed outperform the big suites on finding small and large nasties alike on your computer. So I set up a test. Three computers, no security, random browsing on all three for a week.

The first computer barely started up after a week of the usual websites: email, Facebook, some research, news pages, etc. The other two, experiencing the same websites, seemed to run fine. I made certain to click on three pop-up ads a day on each computer, so there had to be something on there that we could wipe clean.

Computer 1: McAfee. I ran extensive scans of the entire computer, and the results were grim. I had an assortment of cookies, spyware, a couple trojans, and some other bad guys that McAfee got rid of pretty quickly. The computer sped up a bit, but not quite the same. Scanning the computer again after updating revealed only a couple more cookies. 

Then, we ran Anti-Malware. This picked up 473 cookies that McAfee missed, a trojan, and some more spyware. Not bad, and the computer seemed to run good as new.

Computer 2: Norton. After a full system scan, norton wiped clean cookies and spyware, resulting in over a thousand less threats on the computer. Future scans after updates picked up some more. 

After running Anti-Malware, 332 more cookies were found, and 2 Trojan.Agents, as well as some more random viruses.

Computer 3: Just Anti-Malware. Running Anti-Malware the first time on the third computer resulted in an impressive number of cookies cookies, 3 trojans, and lots of malware and spyware detected and removed. This sounds impressive, and from these numbers, it may look like you don't need to invest in an expensive suite to remove and protect your system. What's the catch? 

Real-time protection, for one. While you're actually on the internet, both computers 1 and 2 are now protected live as the viruses are looking for homes. With Anti-Malware, it only protects when you search (unless you update, which costs almost as much as regular antivirus). Also, we ran both Norton and McAfee security, and they both picked up a variety of viruses that Anti-Malware missed too!

So, it looks as though Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is a very good extra protection agent on top of an all-around virus protection program, but shouldn't be depended on solely for internet security. Many users recommend free suites, though, like AVG. With good Anti-Malware on top of that, you could close your wallet and open your browser in security (although no program can defend from everything on the web).

Bottom line: Cool program, as an add-on for security. Thanks for reading!