Malwarebytes snaps up PC scrubber AdwCleaner

The company hopes to integrate the technology into the Malwarebytes malware cleaner over time.


Malwarebytes has acquired AdwCleaner in a deal designed to improve the capabilities of the firm's Malwarebytes Anti-Malware product.

The cybersecurity firm revealed the purchase on Wednesday. In a blog post, Malwarebytes said snapping up AdwCleaner is part of the company's mission to become "more aggressive" in the hunt for Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) which are often a nuisance and can be frustrating for consumers.

PUPs, often bundled into legitimate downloads, include bloatware which siphons off PC resources, adware which forces users to deal with continual adverts and pop-ups, and crapware which could install further programs you do not want, such as shopping applications or games.

These unwanted programs can also be a security risk as they may act beyond their original scope to perform functions such as browser injections, data collection, and installing root certificates without consent.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2011 by three French students, AdwCleaner has been downloaded over 20 million times and averages at 200,000 downloads per day worldwide. AdwCleaner is free software which scans PC systems to remove PUPs, adware, browser hijackers, and other nuisance software.

In the short-term, Malwarebytes says AdwCleaner will be given a "facelift" and the company will work to enhance its detection and analysis abilities. While AdwCleaner will remain free as a standalone product, in the long-term, the company wishes to learn from the software "and integrate the technology into our flagship product," Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Two AdwCleaner founders, Jerome Boursier and Corentin Chepeau, will join Malwarebytes in engineering and research roles.

"While dangerous malware is still on the rise, there is a growing trend for programs that operate in a legally gray area to achieve questionable ends," said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes. "We have seen some PUPs that are blatantly illegal; most are simply unethical and abusing privilege, which is why we are taking such an overt stance against them. The acquisition will help further this cause."

In October, Akamai Technologies acquired Soha, a specialist in cloud and endpoint security for the enterprise.