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VIRUS, MALWARE, TROJAN, WORM… SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There are several types of threats out there that you probably hear about on a regular basis from the new media, social media, or internet forums. There are two basic categories to this, viruses and malware. Of course, by its definition viruses are malicious software and therefore could be considered malware, but in technical nomenclature we single out viruses as their own category.

The truth is that in the last five years, malware has become much more prominent than computer viruses and we see it more and more every day. So what is the difference between a Virus and Malware?

A Virus is a self-replicating software that causes your system to malfunction and tries to copy itself to other systems on your network to destroy as much as possible. Viruses are spread through email, network connections, and black-market websites.

Malware is software that is aimed at making the developer money. Malware can log your keystrokes such as when you log into a banking account. Malware can collect sensitive data on the network, or it can try to get you to provide sensitive information by prompting you. This information is then packaged and sent back to the developer for their use to exploit you, advertise to you, or otherwise spam you with further money-making schemes.

So what can you do to prevent attacks?

  • Stay away from any questionable sites that harbor viruses and malware. Any site that offers information for illegal or inappropriate activity are a source for malicious software. These include hacking sites, pirating sites, torrents, adult sites, “free” TV episodes or movies, etc.
  • NEVER provide your credit card information or banking account information to any software application on your system.
  • ALWAYS make sure your banking website looks exactly as you expect. If you see any strange images or spelling, it is probably not authentic.
  • If you ever notice suspicious behavior on your system, please contact the helpdesk immediately.