Interview with Malwarebytes’ founder, Marcin Kleczynski

Malwarebytes began its life as a one-man operation in 2004 as a company, but it was not until four years later that its star product was released, simply called ‘Anti-Malware’. Since then the company has grown rapidly to establish itself as a serious player in the computer security industry.

Based on a successful freemium model where users can clean already infected machines for free or receive real-time protection for a one-time fee, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has already managed millions of downloads and more than five billion infections. has cleaned up.

We recently had the chance to chat with founder and CEO Marcin Klezynski about the company’s early days, the evolution of malware, his thoughts on the industry, and more.

Julio: Malwarebytes was a bootstrapped company and it usually creates a unique story about how you got started. Tell us a little bit about your background, what inspired you and how you started the company.

Marcin: It’s actually a very interesting story. I was working as a technician in a computer repair shop in Chicago during my final year in high school. It was me and the owner of the shop. Every time a computer comes in we basically reformat it, even if it has a minor infection. Rootkits were still new, ad-ware was still popular software and threats were just beginning to evolve. But I never understood why we wouldn’t try to attack the problem using the tools I had until I got infected at home. When this happened I tried McAfee, I tried Symantec, I tried a lot of stuff and nothing could remove the malware piece.

This was six or seven years ago. I saw this problem and found a forum named spywareinfo which was very popular at that time. I signed up on the forum, posted my problem and after three days my machine was clean. We went through the typical process, hijackthis log, running this and that tool… I was so glad my computer was fine after three days, but it was still three days later!

So I decided to stay on that platform. They were very nice people, I know a lot of them. Shortly after that I started developing very small utilities. One of them was called “About Buster,” which was the first freeware utility I actually wrote. It dealt with a common infection called about:blank that typical anti-viruses of the time could not clear. The app started getting popular, I was working on personally at the time and someone contacted me saying “We have this domain called Malwarebytes, we are not using it – do you want to buy it from us? ” I said yes and that’s how Malwarebytes was founded unofficially.

As I was going through college four or five years ago, my college roommate and I started writing a utility called RogueRemover. It tackles a specific type of infection known as rogues, which are basically tricks to try and steal your credit card information by downloading fake anti-virus software and alerting you to such an infection. There are scams for things that don’t really exist.

RogueRemover eventually became the engine that powered Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. I started selling it in a very niche market. I set up a forum where people can report anything I’ve missed or any false positives, which helps me improve the software.

A man by the name of Bruce Harrison had a very common contribution. It got to the point where he would report something and I would google it but couldn’t find any info. He was so sharp that I really thought he was working for the bad guys. So I told him, “Hey, listen. I’m working on a product called Malwarebytes. I was wondering if you’d be interested in helping me. I can’t pay you right now, we don’t have any money. We Doing it for free.”

He agreed and we worked for a year developing this product. He handled the database side of things while I handled the rest. A year later we had a product. This was January 21, 2008. This was when we actually launched our first Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Edition.

We were very much ahead with our community. Every couple of days we uploaded the latest database and sought people’s help in finding the things that we had missed. This has been our way since then.

Bruce became our Vice President of Research and he currently manages a team of approximately 10 researchers globally. We brought in our VP of development Doug Swanson who was actually a physics PhD student – we have a very diverse team. They did some freeware utilities, same story as mine. Doug stopped being a physics student and became a developer for Malwarebytes because he is so good at it.

We brought in Marcus Chung who is our COO and had previously worked at companies like GreenBorder, which is hosted by Google.

Leave a Comment