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Freebie virus scan biz punts belt-and-braces security for suits

Two AV software products are better than one

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Malwarebytes, the anti-virus firm best known for its freebie scanner software, branched out into the enterprise with the launch of corporate products on Monday.

Malwarebytes Enterprise Edition (MEE) is designed to catch malware that other anti-virus programs sometimes miss, including some strains of blended attacks (for example, malware with characteristics not only of viruses but also of Trojans or worms) and "polymorphic" threats – which are capable of morphing their own code to evade detection. The technology runs in batch mode and is designed to avoid conflicts with any regular anti-malware software already loaded on the same corporate desktop.

Malwarebytes achieves this by testing against all major anti-virus vendors as well as database whitelisting. The tech is designed to work in tandem with other security kit rather than as a replacement to existing anti-virus software.

“Modern malware is able to bypass many of the antivirus technologies currently deployed in today’s enterprise, posing a serious risk to corporate data,” said Malwarebytes chief exec Marcin Kleczynski. “MEE’s heuristic and behavior-based analysis engine adds a powerful second layer of defence to today’s corporate systems that more effectively safeguards sensitive corporate assets from the organised crime rings behind much of today’s malware.”

Not all anti-virus products catch all viruses, and this goes for Malwarebytes as much as anyone else. "Indeed, if it was 100 per cent accurate you would not need to run it alongside other anti-malware products," explained Simon Edwards, technical director at Dennis Technology Labs.

A two-scanner approach can yield benefits, according to Edwards, who has clocked up years of experience in testing the effectiveness of various anti-virus products.

"One reason G Data's desktop products perform so well in our tests is that they use two engines, one provided by Avast! and one from BitDefender. If one technology misses a threat, the second provides another chance to prevent an infection. There is inevitably a hit on performance when you run more than one real-time protection system, but that's a trade-off customers can choose to make or not," he said.

Malwarebytes is offering a anti-virus scanner, rather than an on-access, real-time system. "As such, as long as you don't run a scan using more than one scanner at a time, performance should not be too much of an issue," says Edwards.

But Andreas Marx, chief exec of AV-Test, was skeptical about whether running two anti-virus scanners on corporate desktops offers much of advantage. "Companies usually have enough trouble with their first AV desktop product of their choice – eg, deploying updates, keeping track of the performance, fighting against false positives," Marx told El Reg.

"While many home users also have additional security products installed, I think, it's a bit risky for many companies to maintain two anti-virus products on their desktop," he added.

Potential customers could use one of the more established products to protect their system and then use Malwarebytes to support it, to pick up the threats that escape detection by the main system. However this is little different to running different anti-virus products on different portions of a corporate network. For example, an organisation might run an anti-virus from one vendor on its firewalls, a different AV from a different vendor on its servers and yet another product line from another vendor on its desktops.

Malwarebytes has signed up SCC as a reseller. Other disties worldwide who will be flogging its kit include Grey Matter, DSolution (Canada), SHI, Insight, I Tech Trading and Computerworld Business Solutions.

Malwarebytes boasts that 150 million consumers worldwide have used its technology to either block or remove over five billion pieces of malware.

MEE supports XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating system clients as well as Windows 2003, 2008 and 2008 R2 Servers. List prices start at $1,315 for a 100-seat licence, with special pricing available for government, education and non-profit organisations. ®

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