Will MBAM Protect Against ALL Malware?

Category: Security

A reader asks: 'Based on advice from you and others, I have installed MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM). It claims to detect and remove viruses, spyware, rootkits and other nasties. So do I still need a separate anti-virus program, or will MBAM provide all the protection I need?' Read on for my advice...

Is MBAM Enough Security?

MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) is a program that I've written about on several occasions. I've often recommended it as an additional layer of security, to be used in conjunction with your anti-virus software, or for situations where the first line of defense has failed to prevent a specific malware infection. (Malware is a generic term for all harmful software, including viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, rootkits, etc.)

I'd always thought of it more as a spyware removal tool, but MBAM has improved over the years, to the point where it now rivals a general-purpose Internet security tool. But is it all that? Here's my analysis and opinion...

MBAM comes in both free and paid versions; you can download either or see a feature list at Malwarebytes.org. The most important difference is that the free version is an on-demand scanner, meaning it does not provide real-time (always on) protection against installation of malware. You have to manually run a scan when you suspect a problem, or remember to scan on a regular basis.

MalwareBytes AntiMalware review

But the free version of MBAM does an excellent job of finding and eradicating malware that's already present on your computer. Some people combine a free real-time defense (see my article Free AntiVirus Programs for some examples) with occasional MBAM scans to catch any malware that the real-time scanner might have missed, or just for peace of mind.

The paid version of Malwarebytes, costs $39.95/year and can be used on up to 3 PCs. That includes frequent updates of the malware signature database. Most other anti-malware programs cost quite a bit more, so MBAM Premium is a bargain. It's also a real-time defender against malware. I've warned in the past about running multiple real-time security tools, but this is an exception to that rule. I can confirm that MBAM "plays nice" with other anti-virus tools.

Benefits of MBAM Premium

The Real-Time Active Malware Prevention Engine blocks known malware types, while heuristic protection blocks potentially harmful programs based upon their behavior. That seems to be a very effective one-two punch to defend against both known and unknown threats. Malicious websites are blocked by the Pro version of MBAM, and scanning is faster than with the free version.

Whereas the free version must be run manually, the Premium version includes a scheduler for more thorough scans. Also, malware signature database updates can be scheduled in Premium, but must be done manually in the free version.

If you've ever had to deal with a nasty virus infection, you may have found that some malware tries to block you from downloading, installing or running certain anti-malware programs. Both free and paid MBAM versions include Chameleon technology that can overcome this annoying problem. Even if you're infected with NastyPanda V27x.4, MBAM will find a way to sneak in and run its seek & destroy mission.

Like any anti-malware program, MBAM is better at detecting some types of malware than others. Generally, MBAM is excellent at detecting viruses, spyware, and adware. It's been known to miss some rootkits and keyloggers. But on the flip side, I've found that MBAM has often succeeded at detecting and removing malware where some well-known anti-virus applications failed.

So Is MBAM Good Enough?

Here's the bottom line, if you want to use the free version of MBAM, you definitely MUST combine it with some other (free or paid) security solution. It's just not possible to protect and defend against all incoming threats with an on-demand scanner. You'd be running it constantly - which is the entire point of a real-time scanner.

MBAM Premium is only $39, and claims sophisticated anti-malware techniques to provide comprehensive protection against all forms of malware. I have no reason to doubt that, but neither can I confirm that MBAM Premium is an adequate replacement for a traditional anti-virus program. Malwarebytes does not make this specific claim on their website, and I don't know anyone who recommends it in that manner. You might imply as much, but that's opinion where facts are really what matters.

MBAM Premium is probably good enough, most of the time, for most users. But why take chances, when there are excellent, free antivirus programs that you can use in conjunction with MBAM? I do heartily recommend MBAM, and if you can afford the 25 bucks, buy the Premium version to add a second layer of defense to your antivirus protection. I think it's also a nice way to say thanks to some of the good guys on the Web.

What's your opinion? Are you using only MBAM, or do you use it along with another dedicated antivirus program? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Will MBAM Protect Against ALL Malware?"

(See all 43 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

I use the free Malware Bytes and the free Panda Cloud antivirus. I've used both for several years now and very rarely see anything to worry about. There has never been anything there that MBAM can't cope with.

Also, because my computer is a serious working tool, it only rarely strays into the darker corners of the net where the nasties abound. I don't doubt my safe-surfing habits help in keeping things clean.


Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

[IMHO]Security software should never be PAYware.
"Yearly Subscription" models are for charitable organizations that surely can make better/more use of such payments. SaveTheChildren, CenterForConstitutionalRights, GlobalHumanRights and FisherHouse get my yearly donations instead of PAYware.
In addition to the availability of many FREEware security software, simple disk-imaging and encryption of sensitive personal data are the alternative methods of protection. [IMHO]

Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

Can't help but join the throng singing the praises of Malwarebytes Premium however I find it remarkable that as a Windows 8.1 user I am unable to easily disable Windows Defender as I suspect having two antimalware/virus programs running simultaneously may affect performance though it doesn't seem to be.

Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

I too got a special deal for lifetime Malwarebytes Antimalware Premium Licence and have used it successfully for several years along side Microsoft Security Essentials and never had any problems.

Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

MBAM has been part of my PC tool kit for many years. Last December they offered me a lifetime license on the premium version for $14.95. Of course, I jumped on it and couldn't be happier. I used their premium trial version not long ago on a relative's infected PC to great success. She now has the free version installed and runs it regularly. Their anti-exploit is also installed on both of our PCs.

Posted by:

Lyle Westrom
16 Oct 2014

I've been using ESET NOD32 for several years as my primary anti-virus tool and free MBAM on demand for backup and my system is squeaky clean. I finally switched to MBAM Pro so I don't have to mess with manual scanning and I also downloaded their boot time scanner that runs from a USB stick.
Great tools and thank you for the succinct article.

Posted by:

16 Oct 2014

I've been using Malwarebytes, for years now, by your recommendation in an article. I love it and used the Free Version, for at least over 7 or 8 years, before I purchased the Malwarebytes Pro Version, in 2013. I decided, it was time for me, to go to Pro.

Then in March 2014, the new Premium Version came out and I "upgraded" to it. I honestly, thought MBAM was simply changing the name from Pro to Premium. It wasn't until later, that I realized, the Premium Version was going to be a renewal annual subscription. Now, some have said, that Malwarebytes will "honor" those who had the Lifetime Scription of the Pro Version and you "upgraded" to the Premium Version ... I honestly, do not know if, that is true or not. I will find out for sure, March 2015.

I also, have Avast Internet Security Version, which is a paid version. I simply, would NOT be without either program!!! I work exceedly well, with each other and in my opinion, complement each other. Yes, Avast has a malware component to it, but, it honestly, seems like MBAM catches what Avast doesn't ... That is why, I want both on my PC, as well as my Hubby and Daughter's machines.

I got an Avast 3 year subscription for 3 PCs, last year, 2013. As for MBAM, I got 3 "Lifetime" purchases for $19.95 each, in 2013. At the time, I thought all of my purchases were a bargain and still do. :)

Posted by:

17 Oct 2014

Based on your enthusiastic recommendation, I just bought and downloaded the $24.95 Premium version of MBAM but was unable to install it because (apparently) it's only for use with Windows OS and I have Mac. I re-read your article but couldn't find a reference to this limitation anywhere. Suggest you add this in a little P.S. Thanks!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry I was not crystal clear on that point. The MBAM website does mention it, but I can see how someone might miss it. If you have any trouble getting a refund, please let me know.

Posted by:

17 Oct 2014

We Admins in the PC Tech room in Paltalk make use of MBAM continuously to help users with malware issues. Strangely enough, few took up MBAM's offer of Beta test and then offer of the Premium edition for free for up to 3 computers last Feb. 2014.

MBAM works perfectly fine for users of Window Defender under W8/8.1/10 and for myself, I use MBAM Premium along with Bit Defender Free and also MBAM Anti Exploit that runs continuously also.

My toolkit also includes many other devices for those times when absolutely necessary such as Hitman Pro, Emsisoft Emergency toolkit to suggest a few.

Posted by:

Dave Sexton
17 Oct 2014

When using MBAM with Vipre, my laptop became very slow and had malfunctions. I uninstalled Vipre and went back to Norton that is provided by my ISP, Comcast. All is working fine now. I have been keeping MBAM in reserve and only run it occasionally, which seems to work OK. I wondered if running both would create problems and am happy to hear that it is OK.

Posted by:

17 Oct 2014

I have been using the Premium version of MBAM for over 12 months. I use it in conjunction with Bullguard Internet Protection, which is also a paid Anti Virus, Spam, Malware, and Firewall. I was using the free version of S&D as well but never found anything after using MBAM, so I haven't reinstalled it after a factory settings reset, that's another story.
I have never had any issues, i.e. viruses, malware, at all in that time. The warnings when visiting suspect sites is very helpful, and I often get a message that it has blocked something questionable from downloading, i think it is well worth the money to have both programs, very little to pay for piece of mind.

Posted by:

17 Oct 2014

I have had the free version of MBAM and was very satisfied - but recently (when trying to update) I was informed that my free version has EXPIRED and that I now must pay. How come others have used this program for years while I get only a relatively short test period?

Posted by:

17 Oct 2014

I've been running MBAM Premium for two years, along with McAfee Anti-virus. No problems at all.

Posted by:

Darryl French
17 Oct 2014

I signed up for the premium and it was working fine for a few months, now I get nothing. I tried to reinstall and it goes nowhere. Typed malewarebytes.exe and it blinks at me and no sign of a installation, just a icon setting in my folder files. I have my ID # and Key #. Am waiting for a response from Malwarebytes. Hope they can help. It did a good job when it was working.

Posted by:

John B
17 Oct 2014

I recently discovered to my cost that an update to my Flash player "required " when I was requesting train times at www.nationalrail.co.uk resulted in an invasion of malware including unwanted toolbars and popups. The trial version of MBAM Pro rooted out a lot of this stuff, but I also found further malware afterwards with a host of other programs, including AdwCleaner, Hitman Pro (a big hitter!), JRT, RogueKillerX64 (also very productive), Spybot Search and Destroy, and Sophos Virus Removal Tool. I have reached two conclusions: 1. There is no single antimalware program which you can rely on absolutely to root out the stuff once it has got on to your computer. 2. Malware is getting everywhere on the internet, including reputable sites like our main rail enquiries site in UK.

Posted by:

18 Oct 2014

Well, taking your suggestion that upgrading was a way to contribute to Malewarebytes because I have enjoyed their free version for years, I bought the Premium version. However, after installing it on Win 7 Pro with Avast running, my computer refused to boot past the Windows login screen! I had to restore an image made a few days earlier (thank goodness for EASEUS!) to get it working again. Tried another install of Malewarebytes Premium and same thing--refused to boot completely. So another image reinstall and now a request for a refund. Might try it again in a year or two, if bugs are worked out by then.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I also run Windows 7 with Avast and MBAM Premium. Perhaps there is something else in play here.

Posted by:

18 Oct 2014

I recently paid for the lifetime license. I had used the free one up to that point. I don't go lurking in alleys, but every once in a while it catches something. I am very enamored with the real time protection. I still run CCleaner several times a month.

Posted by:

Graham Jones
19 Oct 2014

I used MBAM free for several years but became tired of thinking "I haven't run a scan in a while. I had better run one". Of course it then found some things usually nothing too serious. I thought for $25/year I get full time scanning and some other bonuses mentioned in the article. I find it somewhat amusing that there are so many complaints about having to pay $25/year. How do you think the software gets generated and kept up to date; the 7 dwarfs? ALL of the free AV's have a paid version with added features. Of course it is our choice whether to pay or not. I like free as much as the next person but for some things "you get what you pay for!". I run a free AV which works well, Avast as it happens, and MBAM Pro is the only software that I pay for and I am happy with my decision! My only complaint about MBAM Pro is that you have to actually be in an admin account to do the original install and install program updates. I run Win 7 and you should be able to use "Run as Administrator" but alas no. It is only a minor inconvenience. BTW I always run as a regular account except where absolutely necessary.

Posted by:

Joe Sabatino
20 Oct 2014

I've got 3 machines running paid versions of MBAM and all 3 also run the latest free version of Malwarebytes AntiExploit (there's paid versions of this also). I also run MSE on 2 machines and the free Avast on the win8.1 my wife has. Avast let 346 malware problems in a weeks time. It also went through MBAM and MBAntiExploit. I ran Chameleon on her machine which enabled MBAM to run which cleaned up her machine. (Apparently, she didn't pay attention to the flag MBAM set that Malicious Website Protection was off. I could not turn it back on again until I ran Chameleon. Thanks Malwarebytes - you've got my back.

Posted by:

26 Oct 2014

I am using ABAM paid version and still have been contaminated with an Ad malware program that cannot be deleted. MBAM staff have been helpful but cannot get rid of this nuisance. It appears on every web site I open and shows 9 empty ad fields that fill in with ads if left for a few seconds. Each one of the nine, has to be eliminated before proceeding with the web site. You cannot imagine how frustrating this is.

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