It’s easy to feel confused about the difference between malware and a computer virus because people often use the terms interchangeably.
The truth is that the two things are similar.
Malware is a general term for any malicious software, while a virus is a type of malware.
What Does a Virus Do?
A virus loves chaos. It deletes encrypted files, cripples applications, and ends system functions.
Computers contract viruses through email attachments, infected websites, and data storage devices such as flash drives.
Do I Need Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software?
For the most part, there’s no difference between anti-virus and anti-malware software.
For example, Malwarebytes’ advanced version of anti-virus software detects, protects against, and removes all malicious software, including viruses.
Here are a few other types of malware you should be aware of:
A worm is often more damaging than a virus.
While a virus attaches to files and activates with end-user action, a worm is a stand-alone program that self-replicates and spreads over a network without end-user action.
A worm can spread from one system to every computer in an organization in minutes.
A network firewall and robust cybersecurity software can slow a worm down.
A Trojan is less of a malware infection and more of a delivery system.
Much like the infamous Trojan Horse from the Trojan War, a Trojan attack uses subterfuge to infect systems.
It presents itself as something useful in order to trick its targets into activating it.
A Trojan Attack can carry most forms of malware. Vigilance is the best defense against a Trojan.
As the name suggests, ransomware is a type of malware that hijacks computers and demands an anonymous online ransom.
Usually, the ransom is paid through a cryptocurrency before the hackers grant you access.
Recognize phishing expeditions and update your cybersecurity software to stop ransomware from holding your system hostage.
This type of malware is more annoying than dangerous.
It bombards you with unwanted advertisements, usually in the form of pop-ups, and slows down your system and your Internet connection.
It’s contracted through infected websites, free software, and bloatware.
The best way to avoid contracting this malware is to be careful on the Internet.
If infected, use the right tools to get rid of Adware and other Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).
Spyware is a dangerous and sneaky malware that hides in your system and monitors your activity.
It can send your browsing history, login credentials, and other confidential information to hackers across the Internet.
Hackers use spyware to commit blackmail, identity theft, and thievery.
However, some legitimate companies also use spyware to track employees and protect their intellectual property.
Stop a spyware infection by updating your operating system, using a secure browser, and ignoring suspicious links.
Download the right software to remove spyware and block it from tracking your activity, or stealing your sensitive data.
Unfortunately, the Internet is full of malicious software designed to breach your privacy, steal your data, or play annoying tricks on you.
Stay safe by adopting good habits online, using the right cybersecurity software, and keeping your operating system updated.