Difference Between Virus and Worm

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 24, 2022, 4:37

Computer viruses and worms are very similar in functionality, but there is one major difference between virus and worm. A computer virus is a type of malicious software program that replicates itself and adds its own code when invoked. A virus moves from one software program or device to the next.

Computer worms, on the other hand, do not require any other program for them to work and do not necessarily contain their own code - some act as self-propagating software that modify existing files or program backdoors.

What is Worm?

Worms can be compared to viruses as they lure a system in, but they never modify the files. They replicate themselves just like viruses do and thus slow down the computer. This can be controlled remotely by hackers. The main aim of worms is to consume the entire memory and display the message "Not enough memory to execute action" or something similar when you try to open a file.

What is Virus?

A virus is a computer program that has been written to specifically perform or is capable of performing damaging actions. It is a harmful executable code that is connected to another executable program and can be either innocuous or capable of modifying or deleting data. When a virus-infected computer application executes, it takes some action, such as removing data from the system. Viruses cannot be remotely manipulated.

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Difference between virus and worm

A computer virus is a program where code goes around and mimics, making copies of itself and replicating into other programs on your device, corrupting them and harming the device.A worm is self-contained malicious software that, once inside a system, can continue damage to the device.
The primary goal of computer viruses is to alter information.Worms' primary goal is to consume system resources.
A host is required for a virus to spread.A worm simply has to access the device to start wreaking havoc on the other programs and files. It does not require a host in order to recreate from one system to another.
It is more dangerous.In comparison, it is less damaging.
A virus can be transmitted when a program or file is opened, and the same harmful code is replicated and propagated whenever subsequent files are accessed on the host computer.To access the device, a worm just needs a medium. This might be done via the web, email, internet chat applications, and so forth.
Antivirus software can be used to safeguard computers from viruses.Antivirus and firewall software can identify and eliminate worms.
Viruses cannot be remotely operated.Worms can be remotely operated.
Viruses are distributed in the form of executable files.Worms take use of system flaws to carry out their attacks.
Compared to a worm, a virus takes less time to propagate in the system.A worm can propagate swiftly through a system.
A virus leads to corruption or removes data automatically.A worm, on the other hand, damages the device's performance and network connections.
Creeper, Slammer, Blaster are examples of viruses.Morris worm, storm worm are examples of worms.
It requires human intervention to propagate.It does not require human intervention to propagate.

Among the several forms of computer viruses are:

  • Boot sector virus
  • Polymorphic virus
  • Spacefiller virus
  • Direct Action Virus
  • File Infector Virus
  • Spacefiller virus

The following are a few examples of computer worms:

  • Email worms
  • File sharing worms
  • Internet worms
  • Internet relay chat (IRC) worms

Viruses and worms are two types of malicious software that are designed to take control of your computer and perform various actions. While they are similar in principle, they are different in the way they are transmitted, and the different types of damage they can do.

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FAQs on Difference Between Virus and Worm

Q1. What kind of damage may a worm cause?

Worms, like viruses, create damage by exploiting vulnerabilities in software and possibly stealing important information, damaging data, and creating a back door enabling unauthorized access to the device, among other difficulties.

Q2. Worm or virus: which is more dangerous?

As mentioned earlier, worms are particularly dangerous as they tend to be more contagious than viruses. You might unknowingly become a worm carrier while adding attachments to an email that harbours the worm and then sends it along to everyone on your contact list. From there, it could spread to all of their contacts’ email addresses, which would then, in turn, be sent out to whichever contacts those recipients had.

Additionally, worms can also spread without you ever knowing about it since they don't require any reasonable interaction with a person or device in order to propagate themselves.

Q3. What is the difference between virus and worm?

The difference between virus and worm is that viruses must be activated by their host, but worms are stand-alone hostile programs that can self-replicate and proliferate autonomously after they have entered the system.

Q4. What is the basic difference between Trojan horse and computer worm?

A worm is a type of malware that can duplicate itself and spread over a network of computers. A Trojan Horse is a type of malware that captures sensitive data from a system or a network.