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Malwarebytes questions poor showing in anti-malware protection-evaluation lab testing

Ellen Messmer | July 25, 2014
Dennis Technology Labs says it tested it because of marketing claims for it; Malwarebytes says free version of product is just a clean-up tool.

Dennis Technology Labs (DTL), which tests anti-malware products for effectiveness in protection, for the first time included the free version of the Malwarebytes software in the labs' competitive evaluation along with nine other vendor products, both paid and free. The results published by DTL today reveal Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free had a poor showing, with only Microsoft Security Essentials doing worse in terms of effectiveness of protection.

In terms of DTL's "protection" ratings that score for accuracy in protecting against malware, the free version of Malwarebytes was scored at 63 based on how many times it prevented a threat from compromising the system. Only Microsoft Security Essentials did worse at a score of 56. By contrast, the products that scored the best in the DTL tests, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 and Norton Internet Security, each scored 100. Other high scorers on "protection" included BitDefender Internet Security which earned a score of 94 as well as Avast! Free Antivirus and ESET Smart Security 7 which each scored 93.

Simon Edwards , technical director at the U.K.-based lab, said DTL decided to include the free version of the Malwarebytes software for the first time in this round of testing mainly because the marketing message from Malwarebytes about it appears to claim "not only is this an anti-malware product but it actually catches stuff antivirus misses."

But the free version of the Malwarebytes software has apparent differences from most of the other anti-malware products tested in that it doesn't have the ability to block malicious websites before they load, which contributed to the relatively low score, says Edwards.

Except for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free, the other products in the test "use real-time protection to detect an infection as it happens and attempt to prevent it from succeeding," he pointed out. He adds the free version of the Malwarebytes software seems to be "designed to be used after an infection has happened and lacks this real-time protection."

Pedro Bustamante, director of Special Projects at Malwarebytes, said, "Our score in this test is clearly skewed by the fact that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free is the only product being tested without real-time protection. It is specifically designed to clean-up threats, as opposed to prevent them occurring. With proactive protection contributing to a significant portion of the score, it is evident we would never feature highly. This is something the authors of the report have acknowledged."

The DTL report, "Home Anti-Virus Protection, April to June 2014" also states Malwarebytes claims its free version "to be the most popular security product installed by users" along with claims it protects them from "new online threats that antivirus can't detect," and the lab was simply investigating this claim. The DTL test, which was not underwritten by any vendors, did not cover the paid version of Malwarebytes, called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium.


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