Malware and viruses are two of the most common cyber threats facing businesses today. Regardless of your business’s size or the industry in which it operates, it may be vulnerable to them. Like all cyber threats, malware and viruses are digital. They can make their way onto your business’s network where they cause harm. Malware and viruses, however, aren’t necessarily the same. What’s the difference between malware and viruses exactly?

What Is Malware?

Malware consists of software that’s designed to cause harm. It’s not legitimate or safe software. Rather, it’s malicious software, hence the name “malware.” Malware comes in many forms. Regardless, they are all designed to cause harm.

Some of the different ways malware can cause harm include the following:

  • Capturing keystrokes
  • Stealing data
  • Deleting data
  • Corrupting data
  • Encrypting or locking data
  • Spamming email contacts
  • Stealing computing resources

What Is a Virus?

A virus is a specific type of malware that’s characterized by its ability to self-replicate. Like all types of malware, it’s designed to cause harm. Some viruses may capture your keystrokes, whereas other viruses may steal or delete your data. Viruses are unique, however, because they can reproduce on their own.

If your computer is infected with a virus, it will spread. There are macro viruses that target macro programs, and there are polymorphic viruses that work by editing their own code. No matter the type, though, all viruses spread by self-replicating. That’s essentially what makes malicious software a virus.

Differences Between Malware and Viruses

Malware and viruses are similar. They are both designed to cause harm, and they both have similar effects when deployed. The main difference is that only viruses are self-replicating. Malicious software that’s able to reproduce on its own is considered a virus.

Computer viruses receive their namesake from biological viruses. Biological viruses, of course, are self-replicating. When they find a host, they’ll spread by self-replicating. Computer viruses perform the same process but in a digital environment. They will spread by self-replicating. A virus may work its way into other programs on your computer, or it may spread to other computers and devices on the same network.

The good news is that anti-malware software can protect against both types of cyber threats. Anti-malware will scan your computer or network for all types of malware, including viruses. If detected, it will offer a solution to eliminate the threat, such as quarantining or deleting the infected files.

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