What’s the Difference Between a Virus & Malware?

What's the Difference Between a Virus & Malware?

When you read things about different types of computer and network threats it can get confusing. Is malware the same as a virus? Is one worse than the other? Does an “antivirus” also detect ransomware or spyware?

These are all common questions when it comes to sorting through all the threats you’re trying to address in your endpoint and network security.

To ensure you’re choosing the right cybersecurity protections for your Los Angeles area business, it’ s important to have an understanding of the threats you’re facing and how they differ.

What is Malware?

Malware and viruses are not exactly the same thing, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, some software developers will call their platforms “anti-malware software” and some “antivirus software” even though they do the same exact thing.

Malware is an umbrella term to describe different types of online threats. Just like people use the word “disease” as a catchall for many different types of specific diseases.

A virus is one type of malware, and there are many others. Malware encompasses:

  • Viruses
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Trojans
  • Worms
  • Botnets
  • Fileless attacks
  • Adware
  • And mor

So, if you are using an anti-malware program, you are also using an antivirus program by default, since a virus is one type of malware.

What is a Virus?

A virus is one of the oldest forms of malware and was actually around before we started using the term malware.

Viruses are unique in that they infect other files on a device rather than simply executing code. This is particularly dangerous because an infection of a vital system file can cause serious harm and also be harder to eradicate.

Just like real life viruses, computer viruses are designed to spread quickly to as many other systems as possible on a network. They do this through infected emails, file sharing permissions, and by executing certain system commands.

Some of the things that viruses can do include:

  • Overwrite part of a computer or server’s operating system
  • Reformat a hard drive
  • Hide in executable system files
  • Run in a macro (like those in Word or Excel files)
  • Change file names on a computer to trick a user into opening other malicious files
  • Replicate itself and slightly morph its code to evade detection

How to Choose the Best Antivirus/Anti-malware Application

It’s important to protect your network and devices against all types of threats, not just viruses. Because, while they were pretty much first on the scene when it comes to threats, today viruses make up less than 10% of all malware used in attacks.

Here are some tips for choosing the best anti-malware application.

Ensure It Protects Against All Types of Malware

If you find an app that is called an antivirus, but doesn’t say anything about other types of malware, you’ll want to thoroughly investigate it to ensure it’s not only protecting again viruses.

Companies need protection against all types of malware, especially ransomware which is one of the costliest types.

Make sure the program you choose offers full anti-malware detection for all types of malware.

Look for Network Capabilities

The more pieces of your technology network you can monitor and protect from threats, the better. So, look for antivirus/anti-malware applications that also extend safeguards to virtual private networks (VPNs), web browsing, and firewalls.

There are many all-inclusive solutions that can give you broader protection, and using a single application instead of several, provides a more streamlined and consistent security strategy.

Avoid “Heavy” Apps That Impact Performance

An anti-malware app should not slow down your computer or cause other performance problems. You want to ensure that the solution you choose isn’t going to impact boot times or make your computer slow to a crawl during scans.

A good antivirus/anti-malware will be “light weight,” meaning it won’t interfere with performance, while still offering excellent protection.

Easy-to-Understand User Interface

Some antivirus software can have confusing user interfaces, making it nearly impossible for a novice to understand if something is a threat or just a warning of some type.

Look for platforms that are designed for the everyday user, and that have clear language when it comes to the threat detection and response interface.

Consider Managed Antivirus

Managed antivirus is typically a part of a managed IT services plan. It includes having everything monitored, configured, and maintained by a trusted IT provider, like Neuron Computers.

Instead of having to wonder what a certain alert from your antivirus program means, you have an IT pro ensuring every threat is monitored and addressed immediately. We also ensure your antivirus is running as it should, and all updates are applied in a timely manner.

Keep Your Network & Devices Fully Protected!

Neuron Computers can help your San Fernando Valley area business with a robust, lightweight, and effective antivirus/anti-malware solution.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 1-833-4-NEURON or reach us online.