You probably know that your desktop, laptop, and mobile devices should steer clear of "computer viruses" and "malware," but what are the differences between the two terms? Malware, short for malware, is any malicious program that threatens a system or network. Researchers discover countless new instances of malware every day, and computer viruses are just one of them. 

So, why do so many people use the two terms interchangeably? Well, PC viruses were one of the earliest types of malware to infect computers, and the name stuck. For example, some computer users say "Trojan horse viruses" when Trojans are actually malware. 

A computer virus is more of a legacy threat nowadays. It spreads by piggybacking on files and corrupting data. Most viruses can usually be caught with signature-based antivirus technology; however macro viruses that take advantage of macro scripts and metamorphic viruses that modify their code are harder to detect. Here are some other types of malware: 


Computer worms may seem similar to computer viruses, but they're quite different. While computer viruses usually require human intervention to activate, worms can spread on their own once inside a network or system. Like viruses, worms can corrupt data, but they can also overload Internet connections and drop more dangerous malware. One of the most infamous examples of a computer worm is Stuxnet. It may have been designed by the United States and Israel to degrade Iran's nuclear program by destroying uranium centrifuges. Stuxnet also has a rootkit component. 


A rootkit is a dangerous type of malware that can give a threat actor significant control of a system. Some rootkits can also boot with your computer and are challenging to remediate. Stuxnet's rootkit component helped it hide its malicious payload and evade detection. 

Trojan Horse 

Trojan horse malware gets its name from the story of Greek soldiers hiding inside a giant wooden horse to breach the defenses of the city of Troy. Similarly, a Trojan horse is a type of malware that hides under a seemingly authentic program. For example, a phishing email that carries a malicious attachment can be a Trojan horse. 


Adware is an annoying type of malware that throws up pop-up ads on your screen to raise advertising revenue. Some adware can also track your Internet activity for marketers. Other adware may install toolbars, extensions, and other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) on your computer without your consent. 


Any program that helps a threat actor spy on a target is spyware. Examples of spyware include keyloggers that log keystrokes and come in software and hardware flavors. Stalkerware apps that help abusers spy on their partners or children are also a type of spyware. One of the most recent examples of spyware is Pegasus, which can read private messages, track locations, copy phone numbers, and much more. 

Pegasus was developed by the Israeli technologies company NSO Group and was sold to high-profile customers like governments. United Arab Emirates leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was recently ordered by a British court to pay his ex-wife $730 million in divorce settlements after using Pegasus to spy on her. 


Mining for cryptocurrency requires many resources, such as high-end computer hardware and electricity. Of course, these resources don't come cheap. So, some cybercriminals deploy cryptojackers to use your computer's resources without your knowledge to perform the complex calculations required to gain cryptocurrency. Not only does malicious cryptomining spike your electricity bill, but it also degrades your hardware.

Anti-malware vs Antivirus

Most modern antivirus programs are technically anti-malware tools because they stop different types of malicious software. Arm with yourself with to stay secure. Additionally, boost your network security with a firewall, and avoid unsafe messages, websites, and links to shield your system from malware.