Malware, or malicious software, is a plague for the digital age. It can infiltrate your operating system undetected, spy on your activities, steal information or even cause instability and destroy data. There are numerous tools that you can employ to help protect your data, such as Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is an anti-malware software which actively monitors for threats as well as scans and identifies malware residing on the system. Once identified, Malwarebytes neutralizes the threat so it no longer poses a danger.
Anti-malware programs, such as Malwarebytes, use a variety of detection techniques in order to identify malicious or unwanted programs. Often, malware is identified by checking it against a database of known malicious software. Another technique is called heuristic scanning, which uses a complex set of rules to look for traits and behaviors common in virus and spyware software. These programs may not yet have been identified by the anti-virus manufacturer and added to the database, thus constituting an unknown virus or new threat.
When a threat is identified, whether through a database or using heuristic scanning, the program is not deleted. Rather, the identified threat is marked as quarantined. Once quarantined, the identified file or program is encrypted and locked so that no other programs are able to access it. Quarantined threats are essentially rendered harmless as they cannot be launched or accessed by any users or other programs. Threats are quarantined, rather than deleted immediately, as false positives can sometimes misidentify a innocuous program or file as dangerous.
Detected threats that have been quarantined can safely be left in quarantine as they are no longer any danger to your computer. Quarantined files still exist on the system, however, and thus take up storage space. While most detected threats are relatively small in size, and their overall impact on system storage should be negligible, you may wish to permanently remove quarantined files. Malwarebytes has a quarantine tab on the main menu that will display a list of all threats that have been detected and quarantined. From here, items can be deleted permanently or restored, thus removing the encryption and unlocking the file.
If using heuristic scanning, the chance of a false positive increases. If you are absolutely sure a file has been misidentified as a threat, restore it from the quarantine to regain access to that file. If you are unsure whether a file has been misidentified, it should be left in quarantine or permanently deleted. Never restore a infected or malicious program, as this will compromise the operating system and may cause damage.