What Is the Difference Between Malware And Virus? (Explained)

When researching for website security, You’d come across terms like malware and virus. Both terms are often used interchangeably but the reality is that they are slightly different from one another.

In this article, you’ll know the difference between malware and virus. Also, you will learn about the different types of malware that exist and the step-by-step actions you can take to secure your website against them.

TL;DR: If you suspect that your website is malware-infected, clean your website immediately. Install this WordPress malware removal, it’ll scan your site and clean it under 60 seconds. Moreover, the plugin will help you harden your website against future hack attacks.

What Is the Difference Between Malware and Virus?

Malware is an umbrella term that refers to any malicious software that is made with the motive of causing damage to a website or stealing the resources of a website.

There are different types of malware. A virus is a specific type of malware. It is a contagious piece of code that can be injected into files and folders of a website. A virus functions like a parasite. It can replicate itself and spread into other files and folders of your website.

But why are viruses and malware so commonly confused?

Malware found on a WordPress website

To answer that we have to look back to the 1980s.

The first malicious software appeared in the 80s. It was a program that infected computer systems. The term ‘computer virus’ was used to describe it.

We have come a long way since the 80s. Now there are different types of malicious software infecting systems. Besides computer viruses, there are worms, trojans, adware, etc.

The term ‘malware’ was coined to include all types of malicious software. But since the term ‘virus’ was already ingrained in the collective mindset, both terms have come to be often used interchangeably.

It’s important to note that there is malware that infects websites and there is malware that infects devices such as computers and smartphones.

Whether it’s website malware and computer malware, the motive is to cause damage or utilize the resources of the host.

Malware is an umbrella term that refers to any malicious software that is made with the motive of causing damage to a website. Click To Tweet

So now we know that there are different kinds of malware. The virus is just one type of malware. Let’s look at the other types of malware –

What Are the Different Types of Malware?

As we mentioned, malware is an umbrella term used for many different types of malicious programs. Let’s look at the 6 most common types of malware found that could be infecting your website. Those are:

1. Virus

2. Worms

3. Trojan

4. Ransomware

5. Adware & Spyware

6. Scareware

1. Virus

A virus is a piece of malicious code that can be injected into a file or a folder. It functions like a parasite. It can replicate itself and spread to other files and folders of your website.

2. Worms

This is a malware designed to destroy a system. It looks for vulnerabilities, exploits it and then moves to a different host system. In a shared hosting environment, it can move through the server destroying one website after another.

3. Trojan

Trojan is an application containing malicious codes. The application may function in a non-malicious way but its true intention will be hidden until it is activated.

Take for instance, a pirated plugin that has a Trojan hidden inside. When you install and activate the plugin on your website, the malicious code is also activated. Trojans are often used to plant a backdoor using which hackers can access your website without your knowledge.

As you may have guessed, the name Trojan comes from the Trojan Horse. Like the Trojan Horse, the Trojan malware deceives and tricks users into willingly running it.

Many malware detection scanners are unable to detect Trojans because they are often mistaken as non-malicious. Only WordPress security plugins like MalCare that are designed to identify such malware can find and alert users about it.

Trojan malware

4. Ransomware

The most notorious malware on our list is ransomware. It can lock your website completely, preventing any site users from accessing it. Hackers can then leave a message for the site owner demanding a ransom usually in bitcoins or other types of cryptocurrency that can’t be traced.

5. Adware

Adware, as the name suggests, is malicious advertisements. It is displayed on websites without the knowledge of the site owner. The motive is to generate revenue off the back of your website’s popularity.

Adwares can appear as pop-ups or they can also appear in the header of the infected site.

Adware malware

6. Scareware

As the name suggests, the motive of scareware is to scare the user into taking action. Most of us have seen scareware. It appears like a popup and aggressively alerts you that your computer system or smartphone is hacked and need to be cleaned immediately. The main intention is to push the user to purchase an anti-malware product. In this way, hackers try to use your website to sell products and make a quick buck.

With that, we have come to the end of the types of common malware.

When looking for website security tools, you may across antivirus and antimalware tools. It’s natural to wonder what are the differences between antivirus and antimalware. We answer that question in the next section.

What Is The Difference Between Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware?

Anti-virus and anti-malware are essentially the same tools. There is no distinction between the two.

It may cross your mind that anti-virus tools are used to clean viruses only but that’s not true. Security software companies use the terms anti-virus and anti-malware interchangeably. Therefore, anti-virus and anti-malware tools are essentially the same things. They can remove all types of malware from your WordPress site.

There are tons of anti-malware software to choose from but not all are effective. MalCare, is designed to find hidden malware. Click To Tweet

How to Use Anti-Malware To Protect Your Website From Malware & Virus?

There are tons of anti-malware software to choose from but not all are effective.

We spoke about trojans in the previous section. Trojans are good at disguising themselves which is why malware scanners fail to detect it.

Our anti-virus software, MalCare, is designed to find hidden malware.

  • When other scanners only look for known malware, MalCare goes one step ahead and analyses the behavior of code to figure out if it is malicious or not.
  • Not just that MalCare is designed to scan every file, folder as well as the database to find malware on your website.
  • When malware is found on your website, MalCare cleans it under seconds to prevent any kind of escalation.
Malcare WordPress malware scanner
  • Moreover, MalCare is a complete security suite. Using the software you can set a firewall and take site hardening and other malware protection measures.

To use MalCare, you’ll need to take the following steps –

Step 1: Sign up with MalCare.

Step 2: Then install the plugin to your website and that’s it.

The first thing that MalCare will do is scan you site completely. If it finds any malware, it’ll alert you immediately. And you can clean your website using the plugin.

Final Thoughts

If you are running a website, there is a real chance that the site can become a target for malware attacks.

Many site owners make the mistake of thinking that their site is small to be a target. Truth is, hacker tends to target small websites because small sites are callous about their security. Big or small – all websites need to take measures to ensure that their site is not infected by malware and virus.

Once your website is infected, hackers can use your website to carry out malicious activities like attacking other websites, storing files, sending spam emails, etc. Just as you protect your computer from cybercriminals, you’d need to protect your website from hackers.

Secure Site With MalCare Security Plugin!

Sophia Lawrence,

Sufia is a WordPress enthusiast, and enjoys sharing their experience with fellow enthusiasts. On the MalCare blog, Sufia distils the wisdom gained from building plugins to solve security issues that admins face.

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