Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Malware and Virus

Malware vs Virus

Whenever a problem arises in a computer, most people are often quick to put the blame on a virus. This is probably because viruses are among the first, and is the most popular, among the computer threats. As not all computer threats are viruses, a newer term was coined to cover them all; malware. The main difference between the two terms is their coverage as all viruses are malwares but not all malwares are viruses. Trojans, worms, keyloggers, and many others, while not viruses, are also categorized as malware.

So what differentiates a virus from other malware? The answer to this question is in how a virus operates. A virus always works behind the scenes and users would not know whether they have been infected or not; unless they have a working and updated antivirus software installed in their computer. Although other malwares like worms also operate this way, most don’t. Trojans, spyware, and many others are executed by unsuspecting users who expect them to be something else. Viruses also need host files to infect. Having a host file means it is a bit harder to detect as there are no distinct files to compare to. A virus also relies on the host file to be run in order to execute its code. A good way to avoid viruses is to refrain from launching files whose origins you are not sure of. Other malwares do not rely on a host file and employ other means to get executed. Some use trickery by masquerading as a photo or video that would seem interesting to users.

Although viruses are still a major threat to network security, it is not the only one as many other malwares exist. Most of the threats that arise on computers are not viruses. To be technically correct, it is better to use the term malware rather than virus. But in most scenarios, many experts just let the incorrect use of the term virus by laymen.


1. Virus is a simply a type of Malware
2. Virus operates without the user knowing while other Malwares can operate with the user’s knowledge

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