Top 5 Free Anti-Malware Software for 2016

January 25, 2016

7:00 pm

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. It turns out this idiom doesn’t quite apply to the domain of security software. A number of reputable anti-malware publishers provide fairly dependable solutions that do the basic protection trick while not charging their customers a penny. The main lure is that these freeware tools utilize the same engines as their commercial counterparts, the feature set being the only tangible difference. What this means is equal ability to detect and remove malicious code.

Most of the free applications in this cluster, however, lack real-time virus blocking capacity, scheduling options and things like behavioral analysis or phishing protection – to eliminate these restrictions, users need to upgrade to paid edition of the software if available. Another limitation is that these products are intended for personal use only, therefore, it’s technically a no-go to run them on computers within an enterprise network.

All in all, based on impartial lab tests and user feedback, here’s the chart of noncommercial anti-malware apps that rank the highest:

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Those seeking top-notch protection at the cost of zero should definitely consider installing this remarkable product. Also referred to as MBAM, this solution accommodates advanced malware and spyware removal features. Importantly, the defensive arsenal under its hood includes anti-rootkit, consequently, the software can spot and eradicate these stealthy digital threats despite the sophisticated obfuscation techniques they employ. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free can run along with most antiviruses without conflicts, which may further enhance the user’s security. It’s no resource hog, so computer performance will not be affected to an appreciable extent. For real-time protection, malicious URL blocking and scheduling options, users should upgrade to the premium edition.

AdwCleaner

Adware is getting ubiquitous. These threats can badly mess up one’s web surfing activity by injecting redundant ads into pages, forcibly modifying browser defaults and installing other malicious software. AdwCleaner by Xplode has got all of these infections covered. It is a lightweight application that focuses on removing PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), hijackers and aggressive toolbars that get installed on popular web browsers without authorization on the admin’s end. The scans are highly accurate and take a little time to complete. Aside from adware obliteration proper, the applet in question can thwart adware attacks by spotting software bundles that host dubious payloads.

ComboFix

Developed by the sUBs publisher, ComboFix is an effective free program that accurately detects a vast array of present-day malware strains and performs the cleanup with high success rate. The applet has a simplistic old-school user interface that may appear sort of amateur on the outside, but it’s not all gold that shines – its efficiency is out of the question regardless. Security gurus on numerous IT discussion boards ask infected users for logs generated by ComboFix to diagnose their problem and recommend the optimal fix. Be advised this tool should be used with caution as some inconsiderately executed commands may lead to system malfunctions. There are currently some platform restrictions: the app does not run on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 at this point.

SUPERAntiSpyware

The free edition of this security suite features diverse scanning options (quick, complete and custom), great responsiveness to new threats and the malware removal capabilities some commercial products cannot boast. SUPERAntiSpyware easily detects the prevalent species of malicious code, including spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, worms and browser hijackers. The handy feature called Repair System fixes broken Internet connections and registry errors to optimize the computer’s functioning. The latest version of the product is equipped with system investigation option that displays a summary on all installed apps and browser components within a single pane. Note that online security features, real-time protection, scheduled scanning and priority support go with the paid Pro version.

Reason Core Security

RCS can make a great addition to one’s antivirus already running on the machine. It consumes few system resources and delivers a well-balanced feature set in its free “standard protection” package. This one includes protection against malware, adware, browser homepage hijackers and covert application bundles. Those who pick the free version enjoy the benefits of the “complete protection” plan for 30 days by default and the extra features such as real-time protection and automated scanning get automatically disabled after this period expires. Reason Core Security is a relatively new application on the antimalware arena, but the number of its aficionados is steadily growing. It is dependable and user-friendly.

While the noncommercial editions of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, SUPERAntiSpyware, and Reason Core Security can be upgraded to paid versions for enhanced protection and extra features, AdwCleaner and ComboFix are distributed on a freeware basis only.

Some freeware tools may be around just for show, falling short of computer defense essentials. As opposed to such dummies, the Anti-Malware products listed above work wonders handling both run-of-the-mill infections and even persistent malware attacks. Overall, as far as the efficiency of basic protection goes, there can be a fairly fine line between free antimalware apps by trustworthy vendors and commercial builds of security software. For the average user, this is certainly an admirable trend.

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David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 10 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs the Privacy-PC.com project which presents expert opinions on the contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy and white hat hacking. As part of his work at Privacy-PC, Mr. Balaban has interviewed such security celebrities as Dave Kennedy, Jay Jacobs and Robert David Steele to get firsthand perspectives on hot InfoSec issues. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

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