I have a very mixed feelings about one issue in anti-spyware community. That is how products are marketed as free. During the years as I work in the industry, there were a large amount of products marketed as free despite the fact that their important features are paid ones. Typically, this was the remover itself. However, some tools has changed the scene.

One of these tools is Malwarebytes anti-malware. It provides free detection and removal for parasites in database, and its paid feature is real-time protection module. So, what is the problem with it?

The problem is how this tool is positioned for end user. You are told that Malware bytes Antimalware provides the best free protection, however it is not so. Protection it is not same as removal. Protection from computer parasites depend on capabilities of real-time protection module. But few promoting this tool mentions this. Some of the experts can’t even see the difference in these statements.

However, Malwarebytes anti-malware is a free good program for SOLVING infections, and in most cases this is one of the first tools I install on infected PCs. It has quite good detection ratio, and quite often was enough to solve the problem. Then again, there are quite a few cases when I had to install spyware doctor or other program to finish off remains.

That brings me to another issue I do not like about Malwarebytes anti-malware: its naming conventions. Most of trojan parasites are hidden under simple name of Trojan.downloader so users can not find more information on what infected their PC at other anti-virus and anti-spyware vendors. Some might argue that this information is not important. I disagree, as other vendors might provide better, more in-depth information about particular parasite.

Thus I would stick to other anti-spywares like ย super anti-spyware or Spyware doctor for reliable protection, and keep malwarebytes as a just in case tool only.

Categories: Security

Giedrius Majauskas

I am a internet company owner and project manager living at Lithuania. I am interested in computer security, health and technology topics.


Roger · October 12, 2009 at 11:45 pm

You didn’t put a disclaimer in there saying that you are an affiliate of Spyware Doctor, and that you don’t like people using the free version of Malwarebytes since it denies you the opportunity from making money from sales of Spyware Doctor.

And yes, I am well aware that you are an affiliate Malwarebytes too.

    Giedrius · October 13, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Roger: Your statement is partly incorrect.
    First I have no problem with malwarebytes but with its affileites/marketers.
    I recommend best product to my experience and tests. There are affiliate programs for both malware bytes, spyware doctor, spyhunter, webroot, superantispyware, etc. I have worked for security software development company for a while as well, however, at the moment I do not recommend their product even if I have friends developing it, and had a chance for good deal.
    The reason is that one has to pick product that does best job, or you will not be in business.
    Malwarebytes anti-malware is one of the best, and I have no problems with it as a tool. Malwarebytes do not impact my life,sales,etc It is good tool, and I recommend it sometimes. There were really free tools there as well before malwarebytes antimalware and after, and still commercial malware remover remain in business.
    However, Malwarebytes is promoted by more shady people. I can see blogs, promoting malwarebytes by such means that I would never do myself. For example, linking directly to cart and forcing to buy product without trying if they remove the viruses first. They are forced to do this to make sales. That is ok, apparently. I know at least one that would push any person in dirt for such behaviour 5 years ago, and is now working at Malwarebytes and is ok with such Malwarebytes affiliate behaviour.
    Also it is ok to state, that malwarebytes, which do not provide automatic protection in free version, is best free protection for the PC. That is a direct lie, done on some marketing channels.
    Once malwarebytes will be really better than any of their competitors, I might switch to promoting it as first product. Now it is not a case and people really need alternatives.
    Also note, I have recommended many times malwarebyte anti-malware itself, without any affiliate links, tricks or something. But only when it was the right tool to do the job. Though more often I recommend downloading free version of Spyware Doctor http://pack.google.com – get same detection ratio and real time protection for free ๐Ÿ™‚ Now that should hurt my life according to Roger.

Tin · November 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Can you list some blogs that are not promoting Malwarebytes ethically? I would be curious to hear about these.

    Giedrius · November 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Sure. For example, Geek Police (it is a forum, not a blog) added a hoax’ed rogue secure shield (read about it here : http://siri-urz.blogspot.com/2009/10/secure-shield-fake-rogue.html) and suggested malwarebytes to remove it . Got a screenshot somewhere in HDD. So it was added without any testing, only in good faith that it will be able to remove secure shield.
    Also, seen some spamming evidence from one old security site, promoting mbam which has quite interesting free download pages that suggest buying malwarebytes without testing it first. I find it highly unethical. Most of spyware doctor and other commercial remover affiliates provide free scanner to check that it can remove particular version of parasites prior buying it.

Tin · November 5, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Personally I have found that there are much much much more SPyware Doctor affiliates abusing the system than malwarebyte affiliates. Half of the spyware doctor affilaites even bother to test to see if the program can remove a virus they are talking about. At least with MBAM you can actually remove something without buying it.

    Giedrius · November 6, 2009 at 12:48 am

    What about free Spyware Doctor in google Pack? It has more features than free Malwarebytes anti-malware, more user friendly, and stuff like that. Sure, Google earns from it, not me or other affiliate. Though I think it is much better than free malwarebytes in 2 respects – you get real time protections and automated update checking.
    Speaking about testing and abusing… One can learn a lot funny things about marketing following how is testing performed and published in bleeping computers, owned (or at least having a very very good contract) with malwarebytes anti-malware. Read last removal instructions carefully. I am not speaking that they are bad ๐Ÿ™‚ However, what they are saying in general are :
    1. Malwarebytes anti-malware fails to remove infection fully on itself in many cases.
    2. Malwarebytes anti-malware can remove installer and installed rogue (check screenshots), it is nothing/very little provided about trojans that promote it, which makes me thinking that in many cases malwarebytes can not fully help the user, only lures into scanning with hopes that malwarebytes can help. Usually users want to remove original infection, not rogue installer only – they are harmless on itself usually and quite often uninstaller work.
    3. Trojans, responsible for infections are detected at the same rate (more or less) by spyware doctor, malwarebytes anti-malware and other good removers. There are differences, of couse. The proof? Quite often ppl claim that they are infected with 2 rogues at the same time.
    4. Many malwarebyte affiliates and contractors copy their instructions from bleeping computers and spyware doctor/other remover production and affiliate sites.
    5. I’ll keep my mouth shut about marketing channels ๐Ÿ™‚ there are lots of interesting points there as well.
    However, this brings me to interesting point: there is a requirement, imposed by ppl related to malwarebytes that one needs to disclose their affiliate relationship with other removers (or be labeled rogue distributors/scammers) , but there is no requirement to disclose contract deals or ownerships when it is spoken about malwarebytes.

Tin · November 10, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Interesting conversation. I am enjoying this.

Personally, I find that Spyware Doctor is just not as good as other programs like SuperAntispyware and MBAM. I find that they have better detections rates and detect newer malware at a much quicker pace. Yes, you do get the real time protection, but the cost of SAS and MBAM are worth the price imho.

I just looked at the guides at BC and I am assuming that you are referring to the fact that you need to use another program in order to get MBAM to run? If that is the case, its just because certain rogues these days kill all exe processes, regardless of name to protect themselves. This includes spyware doctor and mbam. Other malware directly targets mbam, so that should show how effective they are.

1. The fact that BC creates a workaround to bypass this, to me at least, shows that they are not just another affiliate site but actually trying to help the user. BC should be commended on this. It’s apparent that they test each infection they write about compared to many others who just steal the info. So what that you need another tool to run MBAM. That same tool will also allow programs like SAS, Avast, NOD32, and Spyware Doctor to run as well.

As for BleepingComputer’s affiliation with MBAM, I have to assume they are an affiliate with them. I am almost positive that they are not owned by MBAM as they promote other products as well.

2. Not sure where you get that it only removes the installer. When I use it, it removes everything. The most problems I run into with MBAM is that so many trojans target it that its hard to get running sometimes. To me, at least, that shows how effective they are that they are being targetted by malware because they are a threat.

3. As for Trojans, I disagree. My client’s machines have tons of Trojans and MBAM does a terrific job getting rid of them. Not all, but most. When one of my clients get’s infected I almost always use MBAM first. They just have the best track record for newer malware. Hands down. After them SAS. Personally, I never use Spyware Doctor. I just do not think it does a good enough job. And yes, I am affiliate for all three ๐Ÿ™‚

4. Well thats common. You always have one site, in this case BC, who is the forerunner in getting well written and informative guides up. Then everyone else copies them to get a piece of the pie. These removal guide sites are a dime a dozen now. Most of them being the enigma scammers, but quite a few pushing spyware doctor. In fact the least amount of affiliate sites are ones that use MBAM if you look around.

5. I am not sure where you got this requirement from, but I was not required to disclose my affiliates when I became a MBAM affiliate. As I said, I am an affiliate with almost all security program companies so that if my client buys one, I make a little extra on the side or at least I can offer a coupon to the customer as a value-added service for using my consulting.

Heck, consulting is so competitive these days that any buck I can get is a good buck ๐Ÿ™‚

    Giedrius · November 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Tin : Same about conversation ๐Ÿ˜‰
    About 2: Check their descriptions of day 0 infections. I am about 100% certain that these are installers only, maybe one most common Trojan. I know that proper testing of infection takes more time than couple hours. And yes, i know pretty much the process both malware bytes and bleepings use. Aka malware bytes researchers find rogue, same day they get added to bleepings by grinler, 5 minutes latter there are couple links in reputable sites. There is simply no time to test parasite and infection properly, and it is assumed that it is not different than other related parasites. Even more, it is hard to get infected with particular rogue properly, believe me; I worked with people that do the tests. Downloading and installing it from web is simple, though incorrect way, and that is what I see in screenshots on BC. You will see no files that are not in the installer.
    1. To tell the truth, it is quite weird problem. You see, once the trojan process is stopped, user can delete such rogues quite easily. There are even uninstallers provided for some rogues, like cyber security (hidden, though). The only things to do are to delete these files and do a scan for remaining Trojans, maybe tweak some settings. However, that does not look too useful and no antispyware vendors will say that. Sure, scanning PC afterwards should be high priority, but common user does not care after symptoms are gone. There is schemes to earn even from using that uninstaller, I am aware of at least one – providing program that uninstalls particular rogue and changes browser settings to earn from ads the user sees while searching internet.
    3. I have a slightly better experience with Spyware doctor myself. Malwarebytes is good too. I have tested superantispyware, but not using it now (no particular reason). Now I use both Spyware doctor and Malwarebytes anti-malware simultaneously. Sometime one wins, sometime another. We will see how SD 7 will perform ๐Ÿ™‚ So, perhaps it depends on parasites and personal experience, and I will not argue about that. As a freebie, Spyware doctor from Google pack is a very good offer.
    4. Partly wrong. There are huge amount of malwarebytes contractors that promote mbam for fixed amount of money. There are some justifications for that model (i.e. contractor will not push the product to user that does not need it), and it is simpler for them to make some money with mbam. There are more examples of (former) fighters against anti-spyware affiliates that are working for spyware companies like mbam now.
    5. You do not need to disclose deals for malwarebytes affiliate program. However, there are some old โ€œreputationโ€ services that do not like other affiliates than mbam. As an example, check hphosts, which is owned by mbam contractor. I got a bad reputation for this blog just from hosting on same IP with one security-related site (I host now separately). When I asked what should i tell owner of the site to fix it, I was asked to disclose that the site is affiliate of each product download link is provided close to the link itself and so on. I decided not to argue with them why other, mbam related, sites do not need to provide this. The site in question is not owned by me, it was just co-hosted.

Tomoson · March 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

I found MBAM through Geek Police by their suggestion I use it to try and debug my system. Alot of comments on there do suggest purchase although they seem to be genuine happy customers. I find issue with Ur suggestion that MBAM is not trustworthy for some reason as U suggest Super Anti-Spyware, which I had for a while and it didnt help, while upon my attempts to uninstall it, it held on for dear life with prompts of purchase from a tray icon sleeper cell that was a real pain to finally remove. DO NOT INSTALL SAS!!!!!! Spyware Doctor is similarly naggy & faggy!!

    Giedrius · March 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Tomoson: I have no problem with Malwarebytes as tool. In fact, I think it is very good, and I use it myself from time to time.
    I have problem with bunch of people that recommend its free version for protection, which is misleading – only paid version provides real time protection.

tony · August 30, 2011 at 1:42 am

I totally agree with you. mbam does deceive people by making them think that free version is the best solution. mbam should let people know that they need real-time protection. it is a classic bait and switch.

there are so many forum people who worship mbam but never tell people that real-time protection is a must which costs money.

mbam has been very sneaky and smart with their marketing. especially brainwashing forum worshippers.

    Giedrius Majauskas · August 30, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Tony: I do not have problem with MBAM itself- it is a good tool and has its uses especially for PC repair persons.

Jack Foreigner · February 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm

How does Malware Bytes make money if it’s a one-time fee for lifetime protection??

I got this page, and a bunch of others (mostly affiliate marketing sites!), through Google for that search term — “how does malware bytes make money” — none of which search engine results actually answer such a question!

While their marketing is typically sneaky, it’s unfortunately just par for the course for their industry. But the consensus seems to be that what they offer is a good product. I — like many others, as evidenced by Google suggesting the search terms “how does malware bytes make money,” which is an indication of its popularity — am very curious as to how a company’s products can manage to stay relevant and effective when its revenue stream seems to rest upon an old-fashioned business model (namely, again, pay-once-feast-forever)….

    Giedrius Majauskas · February 24, 2014 at 4:04 am

    Don’t know if MBAM is profitable. Personally, I think it is good program, but would not rely on its (even) paid version. At the moment I think it strongly supports paid PC repair market ( I believe they show such ads on their own website too).

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