What’s the difference between malware vs virus? A lot of people don’t know how to distinguish between the two because they seem so similar. They even work in a similar manner which is why most people use these two terms interchangeably. In this post, we’re going to explain the main differences between malware vs virus and help you identify them.
Virus vs Malware
Malware vs virus – what’s the difference? A virus is often referred to as malware because technically, it is a type of malware. Viruses infect and attack all digital devices from computers to tablets and even websites. It all depends on what its intended purpose is.
Attention: Read before you continue
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Here are a few helpful pointers to help you distinguish between different types of malware:
A computer virus starts by embedding itself onto a host and then it self-replicates and spreads in the computer’s system until it infects the entire program. Viruses work by hiding within a particular application and once the user opens that application, it triggers the virus. For better effectiveness, hackers hide viruses within emails and other sharing applications.
A Trojan is a malware-infected application that looks and functions like a regular application for all intents and purposes. The only deviation from regular programming happens when the malware attack is activated. Once this happens all hell can break loose on your operating system.
A worm removes or replaces certain programs or apps. It works by completely decimating the system as it spreads through different users. The worm carries self-replicating programming, with the only difference being that a worm can trigger itself into action. It doesn’t need an external agent to help it execute its dirty work. It can even travel through different networks without relying on a particular host application.
Spyware has the ability to hide inside your system and it can stay hidden for a long period of time. During this time, it can collect all kinds of data about your system, from keystrokes to financial information and visited sites. The malware creator can then use this information to steal your identity, commit fraud or to activate a ransomware attack.
Scareware generates annoying screen popups to tell you about infected aspects in your system. In truth, the whole point of a scareware is not to help you clean up your system but to actually infect it. Once the user clicks on the advertised anti-malware application, the scareware activates and goes to work.
As the name implies, adware is all about tracking the buying and browsing habits of a particular user. It’s responsible for all the unwanted ad popups you get sometimes which are not only annoying but dangerous to your system as well. These links can be used to force you into clicking on a particular link without your permission. Some of them are created to promote porn sites.
Ransomware is quite common and it’s typically created as a form of extortion. The creator designs it in a way that allows him/her to infiltrate a vulnerable system. This usually appears as a Trojan file to the unsuspecting user and once you click on it, the perpetrator encrypts all of your files and then leaves you a message saying that in order to release your files you have to pay them a certain amount of money each month. The payment asked for is usually in some obscure cryptocurrency that’s impossible to trace.
The key to protecting your computer against all types of harmful malware is to install good quality anti-malware software. Keep in mind that criminals have developed their malware in a way that it can come at you from different directions. It can come through an infected disk or even a regular looking web application or online data form. Either way, the end goal is always to enrich the malware creator in one way or another, at your expense as a user.
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