Update: Malwarebytes have updated the Google Play store page which makes it clear now that the app is designed to be a companion app for the Windows service and that it comes as a 14-day trial version. We have added an official response to the end of the article.
What would you do if your backup program would suddenly turn into a paid application asking you to sign up for a paid account to keep accessing the files that you have backed up?
If that is not communicated in the app or on the website prior to it happening?
This sounds like yet another ransomware ploy but that is not the case this time.
If you happen to install Malwarebytes Secure Backup for Android, everything appears fine at first. You can use it to run manual or scheduled backups of data that is stored on your device to the cloud.
The app enables you to backup apps, pictures, videos, music and files that you select manually to the cloud. Once backed up there, you can access the data from your device and versions of Secure Backup for other devices.
Probably the most interesting feature of it is that Malwarebytes will scan the files that you upload to the cloud with its antivirus engine to make sure they are safe.
Everything seems to work just fine for the next 14 days but once you reach the end of the second week, you will receive a notification that your trial has expired and that you need to sign up for a plan to continue using the application.
You won't be able to access your data unless you do so. The main issue here is this is not mentioned on Google's Play Store or when you create an account using the application.
This is different to how this is communicated on the Secure Backup page on the Malwarebytes website. Here you are informed directly that what you get is a free trial, and that there are three plans that you can choose one from starting with the basic plan for $29.95 per year.
If you happen to have installed Secure Backup for Android, you better make sure you have access to the backed up files on your Android device as well as you may lose access to them otherwise if you don't sign up for a paid plan to continue using the application.
It is unclear why Malwarebytes has not resolved the issue by adding information on the Google Play store page and in the app itself so that users are informed about it before they start to use the application.
The app has not been updated since 2013 on the other hand does not bode well either for its future.
“Hi, I’m the product manager at Malwarebytes. I wanted to apologize and say this was an oversight on our part. We should have made it clear in Google Play that this app is only intended to be used in tandem with the Windows version of Malwarebytes Secure Backup. This comes with a 14 day trial, which is clearly marked. Used alongside the desktop version, the app provides access to data previously sent to the cloud, as well as the ability to backup media from the Android device. We had no intent to mislead anyone and have now updated the wording on Google Play. We will also make a change within the app itself to make sure people aren't using it in isolation. Hopefully this clears up the confusion.”