Difference Between Malware and a Virus

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At Rush we are almost asked on a daily basis “What is the difference between malware and a virus?” Many do not know the difference and may be too shy to ask, so fear not world, the answer is here! Very simply, a virus is a subcategory of malware. You can think of the difference between malware and a virus like the difference between a car and a Honda Accord. All Honda Accords are cars, but not all cars are Honda Accords. All viruses are malware, but not every malware is a virus.
Common types of malware include viruses, bots, scareware, ransomware, adware, spyware, rootkits, and worms.
Virus: Disrupts the normal use of the computer. Usually has sluggish performance and crashing.
Bots: Your computer and thousands of others are all controlled, unbeknownst to you by a bot master. Usually used to take down websites or launch DDoS attacks.
Scareware: Pops on your computer saying you need to pay money in order to fix (insert arbitrary reason). Usually come from clicking “Next Next Next Next” when you install software.
Ransomware: Your computer becomes encrypted and you need the pay the ransom in order to get your files back.
Adware: Advertisements pop up on the computer. Usually happen from visiting “bad” websites.
Spyware: Software that is designed to gather your personal information and sell it to third parties.
Rootkits: An extreme infection that can infect to the operating system level. Similar to cancer in that a healthy OS now acts in a different way than it normally does, yet thinks it is healthy.
Worms: One computer in a network gets infected and that infection bounces from computer to computer. All computers and devices on the network with vulnerabilities get infected.

It is important to know the difference between malware and a virus so that when you speak to a person about issues you may have you know the correct words to use. Communication is key to keeping a clean computer and simple mistakes many people do not know they are making can help shave hours off of a repair time.

Furthermore, if you would like a free diagnostic and tune up, join our mailing list. Many of the malware listed above we can remove for free through our courtesy tune up program.

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