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Review Neil J. Rubenking The Best Malware Removal and Protection Software for Malware comes in many forms, but one thing’s for sure—you don’t want it attacking your computer. We’ve tested nearly anti-malware apps to help you find the the best malware protection and removal software for all your devices.
You Need Malware Protection When you sit down to your computer to write a letter, play a game, or connect with your social network, you expect the software to behave, doing what you expect. That’s only sensible. But there’s another whole realm of software whose entire purpose is misbehavior, malicious activities such as stealing your secure logins, sending your credit card details to hackers, or even encrypting your documents and holding the decryption key for ransom.
You need protection against all kinds of malicious software, which we call malware. At the very least, you should install a top-notch antivirus utility. If you don’t protect yourself, you’ll regret it. Malware protection solutions come in all sizes. Despite the word “virus” in the name, an antivirus utility actually aims to protect against all types of malware. Full-scale security suites expand protection to include such things as spam filtering and parental control.
Some antimalware tools work alongside your main protection to provide added security against specific threats, such as ransomware. Before we explore the different types of protection available, let’s look at just what they’re up against.
What Is Malware? The term malware is short for malicious software, and it refers to absolutely any program or process whose purpose is harmful, even criminal. The earliest widely known form of malware was the computer virus , the name for a program that infects other programs with its code, and replicates when the infected program runs.
Many early viruses had no malicious payload; they just served to show off the coder’s skills, or even to give a shout-out to a loved one. Because viruses were first, we still use the name antivirus for software that protects against all kinds of malware.
A virus spreads when someone launches the infected program; a worm spreads without any help. Worms have been around longer than the internet, with the first one, Creeper, hitting Arpanet in The infamous Morris Worm , released in , was nominally intended to measure the extent of the nascent internet. However, due to a coding error it crashed thousands of servers and earned its creator a felony conviction. Modern malware coders are way beyond the “look at me! They’re in it for the money—period—and there’s not a lot of money in viruses and worms.
Trojan horse programs can be more lucrative. This sort of malware appears as, and may even be, a useful program of some kind, but once you let it inside the walls of your computer, it turns loose a crew of nasties. They may send your personal and financial data to malware HQ, install additional programs to earn per-installation cash, or anything the coders can think of to monetize their control of your computer. Trojans that transmit your private information are one kind of spyware.
Other types of spyware focus on tracking your web-browsing habits, or the way you use your computer. Keylogger spyware tools record the keystrokes you type, hoping to hit pay dirt by capturing your passwords. Some anti-malware tools include components specifically devoted to spyware protection. Another common threat is what’s called a bot. Typically, the bot owner uses spam or drive-by downloads to infect many computers, and then sells the services of this herd of bots.
Customers can contract with the bot-herder for tasks including bitcoin mining , distributing spam, or participating in a distributed denial of service attack. The current alpha predator of money-making malware, though, is ransomware—specifically, encrypting ransomware. If this kind of attack hits your computer, you’ll find that all your essential files have been encrypted. The perpetrator of the attack will gladly decrypt them for you—if you pay the ransom.
Worst of all, even if you manage to remove the ransomware itself, your files remain encrypted. It’s a nightmare! In many cases, you must choose whether or not to remove these. They’re not specifically malicious, but they may well be unwanted. For example, you may have installed an ad-supported free utility without realizing just how invasive its advertisements would be. Or you may have clicked through screen after screen during one program’s installation, without realizing that by doing so you agreed to install a boatload of other programs.
And it’s not uncommon for these programs to resist uninstallation. Companies like AppEsteem aim to eliminate these deceptive bundling practices, but if you’ve already been hit, you need some help to clean up the mess. Basic Malware Protection You absolutely need at least a basic level of protection for all of your devices, and that means an antivirus utility. As noted, despite the name these products do a lot more than fight viruses.
They take aim at every kind of malware, and some of them do a great job. But, you may ask, doesn’t Windows 10 have antivirus built right in?
It’s true that Windows Defender is built into Windows 10, and it gained more responsibilities with the Creators Update. If you have no other antivirus, Windows Defender turns on automatically. If you install a third-party antivirus, it goes dormant.
Windows Defender has been getting better scores from the independent labs, and in our own tests, but the best third-party antivirus products, both free and premium, score way higher. What’s Best Free Antivirus? Even though Windows Defender isn’t the best, you may be reluctant to pay for antivirus protection, given that you can get it for free.
As it turns out, quite a few companies offer free antivirus solutions, and some of them are quite good. Most purveyors of free antivirus protection also offer a premium, paid edition. In some cases, the premium edition includes features not available for free, or offers VIP tech support.
Others make the full range of features free for consumers, but require payment for business-related use. The best of these free antivirus utilities outperform all but the top for-pay competitors. Malware Scan Types You can launch a full antivirus scan of your computer at will, to root out any preexisting malware problems.
Most also let you schedule a regular scan. But the first line of defense is on-access scanning. For some antivirus utilities, the minuscule access that occurs when Windows Explorer displays a file’s details is sufficient to trigger a scan.
Others wait until the file gets copied to disk, or until just before it executes. The main point is, your antivirus makes sure that no new malware can infest the computer. But how does it know?
How does it tell that a program is malicious? The easiest method involves what’s called a signature—a kind of fingerprint that identifies known malicious files. Early antivirus tools simply checked the numeric hash of entire programs against a blacklist. Malware coders responded to that by making threats polymorphic, so every victim received a slightly different file.
And antivirus researchers in turn responded by making signatures more generic, so that all variations on a particular malware strain would still fit the profile. But is there an end to the cat-and-mouse game between malware coders and antivirus researchers? Yes, quite possibly there is. The very definition of malware is software that performs some type of malicious action. Behavior-based detection systems don’t check programs against a list of known offenders.
Instead, they watch all unknown programs for malicious behaviors. This kind of detection works against any malware attack, even a brand-new zero-day exploit. Emergency Malware Removal There’s always the chance that your antivirus might miss a very new, very virulent malware strain. You also may run into trouble when you try to install antivirus protection, because the malware already entrenched on your computer fights back.
In either of those cases, you can call on the many free cleanup-only tools. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is our current favorite in this realm. We’ve seen tech support agents for other companies call on Malwarebytes to get rid of infestations that thwarted their own product.
It’s not the only choice, though. Sophos, Symantec, and Emsisoft are among the others that offer similar free malware cleaners. Most security vendors also offer a free rescue disk, typically in the form of an ISO file that you burn to a CD. Windows-based malware only works when Windows is running, after all. Booting from the rescue disk puts you in a different operating environment, typically a Linux variant, with a malware scanner built in.
You may find the rescue scanner awkward and unfamiliar, compared to its slick, Windows-based cousin, but if it does the job, you can ignore its lack of polish. Beyond Malware Protection Antivirus is one kind of security for your computer, but there are many other possibilities. A firewall fends off hack attacks from outside, and prevents programs from abusing your network connection. If your email provider doesn’t filter out spam, a local spam filter utility can help.
Parental control software steers kids away from inappropriate websites and keeps a lid on their screen time. Rather than choose all these components separately, with the risk that they won’t play nice together, many users opt for a security suite that integrates a variety of security components. Of course, malware protection is at the core of every such suite. There are many other ways security software can protect your computer and your privacy. Backup is, in a way, the ultimate security for your important files.
Even if a piece of space junk smashes your computer to smithereens, you still have your backed-up files.
What it does for you
Download Malwarebytes for your computer or mobile device. Whether you need Multiple layers of malware-crushing tech, including virus protection. Thorough . Detects and removes malware in real-time with advanced anti-malware, anti- spyware, and anti-rootkit technology. Scans for the newest and most dangerous.
VIDEO: Malwarebytes Anti Malwares
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