Viruses and Malware are common themes in information security. Although they are cyber threats, there is a difference between them. In a simple and straightforward way: viruses are types of malware, whereas the reverse does not apply. Present in the security glossary for decades, the confusion over the difference between the two terms has also long gone.

The word malware comes from the combination of the words MALicious and softWARE. That is, a malicious application. We can consider malware as a threat ensemble that seeks to infect electronic devices to perform unsolicited functions by the system administrator – and thereby cause damage to other applications, steal credentials, erase data, leak private information and so on.

Malware typically infects a machine without the user’s knowledge, which can be infected in a variety of ways: from files received by email, browsing to online pages that have already been infected or by clicking on malicious links.

Because it is a set of malicious programs, malware also includes viruses. This category works as a biological virus, spreading through the body (system) performing unwanted functions and causing failures. Viruses are carried by infected files and distributed by email. Like biological ones, computer viruses need a host (file) to create new infections.

Other types of malware include adware, worms, trojans, spyware, among others. Recently, one category of malware that became quite popular for the ability to infect thousands of computers was ransomware.

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