The difference between malware, viruses and ransomware explained

It’s easy to get caught up in cyber security lingo, so we wanted to explain 3 key terms you often hear, so you’ll always know what they mean. Here goes:

Virus = a type of malicious software capable of self-replication. A virus needs human intervention to be ran and it can copy itself into other computer programs, data files, or in certain sections of your computer, such as the boot sector of the hard drive. Once this happens, these elements will become infected. Computer viruses are designed to harm computers and information systems and can spread through the Internet, through malicious downloads, infected email attachments, malicious programs, files or documents. Viruses can steal data, destroy information, log keystrokes and more.

Malware = (short for “malicious software”) is an umbrella term that refers to software that is defined by malicious intent. This type of ill-intentioned software can disrupt normal computer operations, harvest confidential information, obtain unauthorized access to computer systems, display unwanted advertising and more.

Ransomware = a type of malware which encrypts all the data on a PC or mobile device, blocking the data owner’s access to it. After the infection happens, the victim receives a message that tells him/her that a certain amount of money must be paid (usually in Bitcoins) in order to get the decryption key. Usually, there is also a time-limit for the ransom to be paid. There is no guarantee that the, if the victim pays the ransom, he/she will get the decryption key. The most reliable solution is to back up your data in at least 3 different places (for redundancy) and keep those backups up to date, so you don’t lose important progress.

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