IObit’s new malware fighter

 I was recently using someone’s older computer, which had IObit Security 360 installed as its anti-spyware program. As is typical, I always check and update, if necessary, the installed security software. I noticed that the IObit Security 360, a popular anti-spyware utility with millions of downloads, had not been updated for several weeks, and clicked on the button to manually update it. As the software was checking for updates, a pop-up window appeared stating that IObit Security 360 had been discontinued and would not be updated, but a free replacement security utility was offered, IObit Malware Fighter Free. I OKed the download (from CNet), and downloaded the free version of IObit Malware Fighter.

 Upon commencing the install process, the IObit Malware Fighter found that IObit Security 360 was currently installed and loaded, and asked permission to uninstall the 360, and then install the Malware Fighter. The process went quickly and smoothly. IObit Security 360 had been out for several years, had been a subject of this column previously and earned a loyal following of millions of users. While generally regarded as a decent anti-malware program with some of the highest malware detection and removal rates in the industry, IObit Security 360 had a checkered reputation after a competing program, Malwarebytes, alleged in 2009 that IObit had stolen proprietary digital malware signature files from Malwarebytes for use in IObit Security 360. This alleged use of purloined signature files caused some of the popular security blogs and rating Web sites to withdraw their recommendations of IObit Security 360; one (Gizmo) even put 360 in its virtual “jail,” asking its readers not to use 360 due to the alleged data theft. IObit removed all of the questioned digital signatures and continued to develop and update 360 until recently, but its tarnished reputation always followed it.

 As technology and cyber security are rapidly changing fields, it was inevitable that IObit have a major overhaul of 360 in order to restore its reputation as a leader in the anti-malware industry. It appears that IObit may have accomplished the feat by releasing its comprehensive new anti-malware utility, IObit Malware Fighter Free, and its big brother, the commercial IObit Malware Fighter Pro. The free version is available for personal non-commercial use, and the pro version ($20 - $30) can be used by individuals or in a business environment. According to the IObit Web site, IObit Malware Fighter 1.0 incorporates several new features, including an “improved engine for Smart Scan, full scan and custom scan; brand new and& easy-to-use interface; enhanced real-time protection; and creative cloud computing technology.” As with several of its competitors, this new software offers real-time protection, frequent updates, and is explicitly designed to run in addition to antivirus software as an additional layer of protection. The commercial Pro version ($20 - $30) has all of the features of the free version, plus “enhanced malware protection; automated scan when PC is idle; scheduled scan; automatic update with high priority; free 24x7 customer support; enhanced real-time protection; and consent for commercial use.” IObit Malware Fighter will run on most versions of Windows, including the 32 and 64 bit builds of Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

 After downloading and installing IObit Malware Fighter Free, version 1.0, I noticed the word “Expired” on the top edge of the screen; a short inquiry disclosed that this old computer had the Pro version of IObit Security 360 installed previously, but the annual subscription had expired. The newly installed (and updated) IObit Malware Fighter detected that the Pro version of 360 had been installed previously, and if the annual license had still been valid, it would have automatically enabled the Pro features of Malware Fighter.

 The first screen of Malware Fighter is the “Overview” screen, which displays the security status of the computer. One noteworthy feature of this Overview screen is the “DOG Detection” feature, which is checked in the top right corner of the screen. “DOG” in this context is a new term for me, but IObit explains it as, “Using DOG (Digital Original Gene), a novel heuristic malware detection method, IObit Malware Fighter can find the most complex threats.”

  The next screen, as selected on the left margin of the window, is the “Scan” screen. This is where the user can select the type of scan desired, such as a “Smart Scan” (“Quickly scan the most critical sections of your system”); a “Full Scan” (complete hard drive scan); or a “Custom Scan” where the user selects what directories to scan.The “Protect” screen displays the real-time protection features implemented by IObit Malware Fighter. The Free version provides real-time protection of the startup files, the browser, the network, critical system files, and questionable Internet cookies. The paid pro version provides additional real-time protection of the system processes, connected USB drives (including USB transmitted malware), and malicious actions against the computer.

 Cloud computing, which is the current fad in cyberspace, is represented by the fourth screen, and Malware Fighter uses “ … cloud computing technology to analyze the behavior of security risks in an automated way.” While not explicitly stated in the program, a review of the credits (click MORE – ABOUT) shows that the very popular and well-respected security service Panda Cloud is somehow involved in this cloud protection.

 Based on the tradition and reputation (tarnish excluded) of its direct predecessor being one of the top-rated malware detection and removal utilities, I am willing to give the newly released IObit Malware Fighter Free a chance, and will follow its performance on this older computer. If it can perform as well as its predecessor, and protect this machine from the endemic threats present in cyberspace, than this would have been a good choice.

Listen to Ira Wilsker’s weekly radio show on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. on KLVI 560AM.

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