Antivirus versus anti-malware: What is the difference?

Antivirus and anti-malware suites are the two major kinds of protection for PC users. Two of the most common threats to the computer users are virus and malware. Often these terms are used synonymously and interchangeably. While both virus and malware are cyber threats, they are not the same. Similarly, antivirus software programs are different from anti-malware software programs. If you are wondering about the difference between the both then read on.

Difference between Antivirus and anti-malware

To understand the difference between antivirus and anti-malware, you first need to know the difference between and the meaning of the terms virus and malware. Virus and malware are harmful softwares which harm the data in the computer. In the beginning viruses and malware were used for pranks, but now with advanced techniques and hacking technologies they are used for several cybercrimes.

What are viruses?

Viruses include programs and codes which enter the system by getting attached to files or programs. They run on the computer without the knowledge of the user. Viruses attach to files, hosts, etc and they have the tendency to replicate themselves to wreck havoc in the computer system. All of the computer related viruses are human made. Viruses are of two kinds: Non-resident virus and resident virus. Non-resident virus searches for potential target hosts immediately after execution. After infecting the targeted host it hands over the control to the infected program. Resident virus does not conduct an immediate search to find hosts. To remove a virus, deleting the infected file from the computer or formatting the computer system is enough.

What is malware?

Malware is an abbreviation of malicious software. These softwares are written exclusively to infect and cause harm to the computer system. Malware is an umbrella term which encompasses several kinds of threats like virus, worms, adware, spyware, Trojan horse, rootkits, dialers, keyloggers, and ransomware. Elk Cloner is the oldest documented malware.

Antivirus versus anti-malware

Often the two terms viz antivirus and anti-malware are used interchangeably. In the past, antivirus software programs used to target only a specific kind of malware: viruses. In the 90s antivirus became a household term and people began calling anti-malware softwares as antiviruses because of the prevalence of viruses in that era. In the 90s viruses grew tremendously because of their capability to replicate themselves and infect other systems without any discrimination.

However, nowadays, malware threats are on an increase. Ransomware and spyware threats are becoming more rampant and destructive. Anti-malware is a security program which is installed on a computer. It detects, removes, and blocks malware from the computer system. If you add any file or data in your computer, the anti-malware software scans it to ascertain whether it matches any malware definition present in the database. With the help of internet, the anti-malware software updates the database of all the known malwares. You can also schedule scans from time to time to check the computer for malware.

In order to protect your home or business computer system, you must have an all-around protection solution. You should conduct a thorough research before going for any security product. It is essential to ascertain the kind of protection offered by the software package. Some of the antivirus software programs protect the system from only virus infections. You should get a robust security program which will secure your system entirely.

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