Explaining the Terms: Difference between Viruses, Spyware and Malwares?


So, you know everything about how to secure your PC. From manually removing viruses to installing security suites. Many of you would boast my PC or laptop is completely secure. I’ve got this security software and that antivirus, anti-spyware blah..blah…blah. But, do you know the actual difference between these terms? Virus, Malwares and Spywares. No matter if it’s a spyware or a malware affecting your PC slow down or automatic shutdown you’ll always say it’s due to virus. So, here in this article I’ll clear your misconception that is coming down to generations from almost a decade.(Image by naivepuppy)


The most often used term ‘Virus’. To explain it with precision. Virus are malicious bunch of code that copy itself and spread it to different files on the PC and also from PC to PC using external drives like USB and DVDs. It’s named same as the biological virus term. It goes viral over the PC so it’s called virus. They usually corrupt files, especially system files causing loss in performance.
They mostly affect the executable(.exe) files. Because, these are the files that mostly interact with other files on the machine. Softwares that have number of bugs are the prime target. They exploit those bugs and get into the program. The program may run normally but simultaneously would spread virus. If your download was supposed to be .mp4 but came in as .mp4.exe, you’re dealing with a virus.
Virus now a days generate polymorphic code. It means the malicious code changes whenever it moves from one device to other. Making it harder for antivirus programs to track them. And that is why you see your antivirus program updating the virus definitions almost everyday. But, for your knowledge viruses are now not the big problem.

“Spyware” = “Malware”

Forget about the damn virus. The single most dangerous threat that an internet user can face is a spyware. Spyware in general tracks your web activities, logs your history, passwords and other private numbers including the credit cards. They can enter your PC in different formats such as keyloggers, sneakware, trojans, worms and browser hijackers. Due to such mutation of spyware in different forms, it is now included into much larger category called Malware.
Explaining malware with precision. It’s a malicious software program that installs itself on your system without your permission and perform secret operations. Once installed it can do hundreds of dreadful stuff on your computer. It will log your keystrokes, steal your passwords, send you target e-mails, redirect to phishing pages while browsing also track your personal information and upload it to servers.
You can not see these processes working in the task manager. They tend to hide themselves and even can’t be uninstalled from control panel. It needs special tools like anti-malware for them to be removed from your system. You can say it’s a cousin of virus. But, with more broader wicked intentions.

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