What is the difference between malware and virus infections?

Written by: Vinny Polston; IT manager of Mach1 PC, LLC.

Truth is, there is no difference between malware and virus infections. Malware stands for malicious software, and is just a general term that can be applied to any type of.. malicious software on your computer: a virus is malware. Other types of malware include adware, spyware, scareware, & trojan horses. We’ll talk about a few of those below.

Virus: We all get infected at one-time or another. The most popular term to describe infections is a virus. Most viruses attach themselves to executable files ( pretty much any program that can run on the computer ). Viruses usually target programs that are used in day-to-day use; such as Microsoft Windows & MS word. You can learn how to protect yourself from reading our article titled, “Review of the TOP 5: What antivirus should I use?” Viruses can and will replicate themselves all throughout your computer.

Adware: Do those popups all over your computer get you frustrated? You can thank adware for that! The name pretty much explains exactly what you should expect regarding adware. Advertisements that seemingly take over your computer are one of the most popular types of malware infections. Here recently, the most popular adware we see come into the shop is called Conduit; which floods internet browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, & Google Chrome with advertisements everywhere.

Spyware: If you’re concerned about your privacy, banking, credit-card information, etc.. spyware is not your friend. As the name suggests, it is used to collect information without your knowledge and send that information to the creator for sale or use. A key logger would be a version of spyware and can even be a physical piece of hardware plugged into your computer.

Scareware: Has your computer ever popped up with a screen saying the FBI, Homeland Security, or other government agencies are out to get you if you don’t pay a fine? If so then you have been infected with scareware. The goal of scareware is to accuse you of a bunch of absolutely horrible things that you didn’t do. The government is not coming after you; this is just a version of malware. The end goal is to use scare tactics to get you to pay a “fine” of $200+ through a MoneyPak code. Now that company/individual has stolen your money with no way to reverse the transaction and your computer still is not fixed..

Trojan Horse: Unlike the virus, the trojan horse does not replicate itself. Trojan Horses are designed to look like a innocent application – but in the background are malicious and can cause your computer to be used for illegal purposes. Trojan horses can even give hackers a “backdoor” to your computer system to take advantage  and control of your computer.

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About the Author

This website is updated by Vinny Polston, IT Manager of Mach1 PC, LLC. Vinny has been A+ certified since 2008. We have a team of 3 technicians who are very qualified to serve you and fix your computer needs.

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