Malware vs Virus: Differences & Infection Risks
The terms malware and viruses are sometimes used interchangeably. Some people will refer to malware as a subcategory of viruses while others will refer to malware as only impacting web browsers. Still, others will categorize every type of malicious software as malware. For our purposes, we will refer to malware as a category of malicious software that mainly impacts web browsers and viruses as malicious software that impacts computer systems and networks.
Web browsers have access to a great deal of data from your computer. Even if you don’t store personal information such as passwords in your browser, there is still a great deal of information that can be obtained if malware has infected your system. Protecting your browser from infection is extremely important to the protection of your data and system.
Types of malware that can affect you:
- Keylogger: A program that logs keystrokes
- Spyware: Designed to spy on your activity
- Worms: Infect entire networks of devices
- Ransomware: Locks down device and makes threats until a ransom is paid
- Pop-ups: Creates unwanted pop-up ads while you are browsing the Web
Your device can become infected by everyday activity. Viruses come from infected files and websites, installing themselves into your system without your knowledge. Some damage programs, destroys files, and format your hard drive causing data loss. They are also known to block your internet access by flooding the network. If your device is infected with a virus, repairs can be costly. Even after repairs, not all files or data can be restored or recovered.
Viruses hide in commonly used applications, such as:
- Sharing Files: Photos, music, and word documents
- Email Attachments: Sources you trust can carry them
- Downloading Free Software/Music: Games, music and browser tools
- USB Drives: That have been connected to infected device
More common ways that a virus can cause damage to your device:
- Steal your personal information
- Corrupt your operating system
- Cause device to crash
- Delete your files
- Display spam messages
- Send spam emails to your contacts