Cybersecurity is another term for computer security and includes all the measures you take to prevent unauthorized people from accessing your computer system and data. Cyberattacks can take a number of forms and may try to prevent your system from operating, but they could also steal data, money, or other resources. The topic of cybersecurity is a complex one with lots of different terms and definitions thrown around, often interchangeably. Two of the terms most often confused are antimalware software and antivirus software. This article explores what you need to know about both antimalware and antivirus and how you might go about choosing between them.
Computer viruses vs. malware: what’s the difference?
A virus is a piece of computer code that can copy itself over and over again doing damage to your computer system and/or data in the process.
Malware is the general term for all the different types of malicious software which can damage your computer, so in addition to viruses, malware can also take the form of ransomware, Trojans, worms, adware, and spyware (to name a few).
In simple terms, all viruses are a type of malware, but not all malware is a virus.
Antivirus vs. antimalware: what’s the difference?
It would follow logically then, that antivirus software would only protect your computers and other endpoint devices against viruses, while antimalware would protect against lots of different types of malicious software, but this is not entirely accurate.
While back in the old days, viruses were the only real threat to computer security, times have moved on. Antivirus software has evolved over time to protect against a range of malicious software types, but for the sake of simplicity, the name has remained the same in many cases. However, because the software has moved on from being virus-specific, it is now increasingly being called antimalware software.
So, antimalware is essentially the same product as modern antivirus software, but with a more accurate name. The most important point to take away is that both antivirus and antimalware software are categorized as cybersecurity. Both will detect, provide protection against and remove malicious software that could infiltrate and damage a computer system or network. Visit www.mcafee.com for information about finding the right endpoint security (security for your computer devices) for your network.
Other types of malware
- A virus is a computer code that, when triggered by the user, replicates itself within other computer programs preventing them from operating.
- Adware will make unwanted adverts appear on your screen, often when you are browsing the internet or using a mobile app. It may look legitimate, but clicking it or installing the product could infect your device.
- Spyware observes your computer activity without your knowledge, including payments, downloads and logins, so it can exploit the information. A keylogger is like spyware but it tracks and records your keyboard to get your usernames, passwords, or credit card details.
- A worm is like a virus but does not need to be triggered by the user to work.
- A Trojan attack is when malware of any type is delivered in a form that appears safe but when opened it releases the malware.
- Ransomware will prevent you from accessing your device and/or will encrypt your files until you pay a ransom to get them unlocked.
- Phishing is usually used to obtain usernames, passwords, credit card details or other useful information. It is typically delivered via an email. This looks like it is from a trusted person or organization but includes a link which, when clicked, will grant the hacker access to your network. This can also be referred to as spoofing.
- Rootkits give the hacker administration privileges, but it is hidden from the computer user.