Malwarebytes pounces on exploit-blocking rival ZeroVulnerabilityLabs

New-wave antivirus startups tie the knot

Rising antivirus star Malwarebytes has bought putative security startup ZeroVulnerabilityLabs in an effort to broaden its appeal from simply fixing malware infections to blocking them before they occur.

It's an interesting buy for Malwarebytes, founded in 2008, which only weeks ago announced a new cloud-based Secure Backup service as part of an ongoing diversification and expansion programme.

ZeroVulnerabilityLabs itself is barely out of the Silicon Valley starting blocks, having raised its head only late last year with the beta of its ExploitShield browser plug-in. Founded partly by exiles from Spanish cloud antivirus firm Panda Security, the firm's USP was to create a security product that could detect and block malware attacks that pounce on software exploits, including undetectable zero days.

Software exploits are now one of the most effective ways of attacking Windows PCs and the mainstream antivirus industry - fixated on obsolete signature scanning of files - has struggled to contain their potency.

Malwarebytes by contrast has built its growing reputation on sorting out the mess that follows after antivirus infection, specialising in removing malware including difficult-to-cleanse forms such as rootkits.

Combining the two fields without having to stray into the zero sum game of conventional antivirus protection was too good an opportunity for either firm. It also buys a bit more scale.

"I am very pleased to announce the acquisition of ZeroVulnerabilityLabs and to welcome its employees to the Malwarebytes team," said Malwarebytes CEO, Marcin Kleczynski.

"We are always looking to improve upon our existing offerings, and have done so with the addition of ZeroVulnerabilityLabs' technology. The proactive nature of this technology makes it a great addition and compliment to the existing Malwarebytes software suite."

ZeroVulnerabilityLabs co-founder and CEO Pedro Bustamante concurred.

"It is a great fit between two companies who are fighting malware in innovative and effective ways in order to protect both users and companies from the most dangerous and complex types of attacks."

Both firms are private entities so the sum exchanged hasn't been disclosed. ExploitShield has been re-branded Malwarebytes 'Anti-Exploit' with immediate effect.

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