Countless times in this column over the years, I have recommended free standing anti-malware software from MalwareBytes, SuperAntiSpyware and Emsisoft. I have now had an opportunity to experiment with another newly released competing product, Malware Fighter 2 from IObit, and my first impressions are positive.
Available from the IObit at www.iobit.com  are both a free version and a paid pro version ($19.95 for a one year license). Both offer real-time protection from malware attacks with a security package that does not significantly slow down the computer, is frequently updated, can detect and remove malware infections that may have penetrated the existing security software, and is explicitly designed to run on top of other antivirus and security software in order to provide security in depth. Both versions use IObit’s proprietary “Dual-Core” anti-malware engine, which claims to detect complex and deeply hidden malware, including spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, hijackers and other malware threats. If a suspicious file or behavior is detected that is not included in the updated Malware Fighter’s database, the questionable file is uploaded to the new “IObit Cloud Security” service for further analysis and resolution. For users who prefer simplicity, Malware Fighter offers a “Smart One-Stop Solution” that can detect and repair any malware security issues with a single mouse click. The only major difference between the free and pro versions that I could find is that the pro version updates automatically, and the pro version can be set to perform a scan at selected times.
As good as they may be, no security product offers 100 percent protection; it is often desirable to implement a layered defense that will impose additional barriers and defenses to a variety of cyber threats. Today, several anti-malware products are intentionally designed to run concurrently with contemporary security software in order to provide enhanced security in real-time, and Malware Fighter is one of those products. This software is written to be compatible with other antivirus and anti-malware software, firewall software and other security products.
The real-time functions in Malware Fighter provide comprehensive protection from threats, including a series of “Guards,” that each protect from an attack targeted at a specific computer function. These guards include a “Startup Guard” that prevents unwanted programs from installing themselves such that they load every time the computer is booted; a “Browser Guard” that protects the browser from being hijacked, having the startup page changed without consent, and other browser based threats; a “Network Guard” that block Web pages containing threats; a “File Guard” that protects critical system and program files as well as scans unknown files for threats; a “Cookie Guard” that protects the browser and the user from dangerous cookies (small text files placed on the computer by Web sites that can violate your privacy and safety); a “Process Guard” that monitors the running processes on the computer, continuously searching for threats that may start to run; a “USB Disk Guard” that protects from infestation from USB devices; and “Malicious Action” that protects against other malicious behaviors, threats and dangers to the computer. These real-time protections are always running and providing continuous protection, even when Web gaming, Web browsing, reading e-mail, shopping online, watching videos and performing other PC activities.
Currently, a nasty form of cyber threat is referred to as a “zero day” threat in that it can be introduced and spread so quickly that it is nearly impossible for security providers to detect the threat and devise a solution to neutralize it before is spreads widely. IObit Malware Fighters uses a variety of tools to protect the user from these rapidly evolving threats, including a form of Host Intrusion Prevention System, commonly referred to as “HIPS.” Malware Fighter has a feature it calls “DOG” to detect these new threats.
In addition to providing real-time protection, this type of software is also designed to scan the computer for existing threats. Malware Fighter allows user selectable custom scans covering critical system areas, processes running in memory (running malware can often be quickly detected here, as a memory processes scan only takes a few seconds), or specific hard drives.
IObit Malware Fighter will run fine on all contemporary versions of Windows, including Window 8, Windows 7, XP, Vista, and Windows 2000. Hardware requirements are minimal for a modern computer, such that Malware Fighter will run on almost any Windows PC with a minimum of 256 megs of RAM, a 300 MHz processor, and 30 MB of hard drive space.
For those who would like another malware scanner in order to confirm their PC’s security, or would like a free or paid real-time malware utility that can provide security in depth in addition to the security software already installed, IObit’s new Malware Fighter 2 would be very worthy of consideration.