What's the difference between viruses and malware
Knowing the definition

Viruses vs Malware : Understanding the difference

You're probably a tech-savvy user, but do you really know the difference between viruses and malware? In this guide, you'll understand the difference between the two.

When it comes to computers, it’s always important to have a clear understanding of the difference between viruses and malware. In terms of definition, a virus is simply a type of malware. This means that technically speaking, if you say that your PC has been infected with malware is more accurate than saying it’s been infected with a virus — it just happens that the word “virus” is a more widely adopted term.

Other type of commonly known malware includes worms, Trojan, rootkit, adware, and spyware. There is also a more advanced malware called ransomware, which are being used to block access to your computer until a certain amount of money is paid.

What’s Malware?

The term “malware” is use to refer to malicious software that can affect your computer’s behavior, steal personal information, gain control of the system, or display unwanted advertisement.

Malware can infect desktop computers, tablets, laptops, and mobile devices, no matter the kind of operating system you’re running.

Commonly known malware

Viruses

A computer virus is one of the most common and recognizable type of malware. A virus is a set of malicious code that is capable of replicating itself across the network between shared computers, and it’s intended to cause harm to a computer system, such as making your system almost impossible to use and in most cases corrupting system files.

Typically, a virus runs when someone executes an infected program from an email attachment, from a software that was downloaded from an untrusted source, or someone boots from an infected storage device.

Often the end-user won’t know their computer has been infected until the virus kicks in and takes over the machine.

Worms

This type of malware can replicate itself, but it’s meant to be more disruptive. Once a worm takes of a system, it will destroy files and information stored on the computer.

Trojans

This is typically a malware designed to make you think it’s a safe software to gain access to your system. Trojans are usually coded to steal your personal information, such as banking information, sign-in passwords, and various of personal information.

Unlike viruses and worms, Trojans are not known to infect files stored on a computer or spread between computers. They’re generally distributed through email attachments and software download that look legit and safe.

Spyware

This malicious code is designed to track your online activities without your knowledge and serve pop-up with undesired advertisement.

They are also difficult to detect as they can discretely hide inside the victim’s computer. Some spyware, such as keyloggers can be installed on systems to monitor users.

Similar to Trojans, Spyware are also capable of collecting any kind of information, including internet activities, personal information, bank account information, and a lot more.

In addition, Spyware can also disrupt users and control computers by installing unwanted software or redirecting users to unwanted sites. They can also change the computer settings and make an internet connection very slow.

Adware

This type of malware is designed to display advertisement for the only purpose of generating revenue for a third-party. Usually, adware is coded to track the end-user internet activities and present them with related advertisements.

These programs are generally no meant to cause harm to a computer, but they can be extremely annoying, and they can affect user experience and performance.

Ransomware

You don’t want to come across this type of malicious code. Ransomware are a new type of advanced malware encrypts all the data on the victim’s computer and then the attacker asks for money payment in exchange to let the user access the computer and data again.

There are a few other ransomware variants that are more simple. Some ransomware my simply lock a system, which may not be very difficult for a tech-savvy person to get around the malware without having to issue a payment to unlock the system.

Usually attackers will try to deliver a ransomware using a Trojan that disguises the payload as a legitimate file.

Recent and most popular examples of ransomware are CryptoLocker and CryptoWall, both of which have been taken down by authorities.

Rootkit

Rootkit is not defined as a malware, instead it’s a set of malicious software designed with the purpose to enable an unauthorized user to gain control of system without the victim’s knowledge.

Wrapping things up

We depend on our computers and mobile devices to make purchases on the internet, check bank account information, communicate with other people, and much more. On an online world staying protected from malware requires being aware of the threats and having the proper tools to prevent your system from getting infected and block attackers from stealing your information.

If you use Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7, you know that you can count on Windows Defender, which is Microsoft’s free antivirus solution that comes built into the operating system. However, you can always choose to use more advanced security software, such as Kaspersky, Avira, Bitdefender, Trend Micro, Norton, and many more.

When your computer gets infected with high persistent virus or rootkit, remember that you can use Windows Defender to scan your device offline and remove any threats. On Windows 10, you can also use Windows Defender alongside third-party antivirus using the Limited Periodic Scanning feature.

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