Difference Between Virus and Worm

By K Balaji|Updated : October 4th, 2022

The main Difference Between Virus and Worm is that virus must be activated by their host, whereas worm is stand-alone malicious programs that may self-replicate and spread once they have gained access to the system. Worms execute and disseminate their programming without requiring activation or human involvement. Both computer viruses and worms harm the computer device. 

Even though Computer viruses and worms are very similar in functionality, there are various differences between viruses and worms. Below, have provided the Difference Between Virus and Worm that would help you understand the factors that make worms and viruses different from each other.

Difference Between Virus and Worm

A virus is a harmful executable code that is attached to another executable file and can modify or erase data. When a computer software that is infected with a virus executes, it takes action, such as deleting a file from the computer system. Viruses are incapable of being manipulated remotely.

Difference Between Virus and Worm - Download PDF

Worms are similar to viruses, but they do not alter the program. It continues to multiply itself, slowing down the computer system. Remote control of worms is possible. Worms' primary goal is to consume system resources. Worms don't need their host file to be activated. Once a worm has gained access to your computer, usually through a network connection or a downloaded file, it can run, self-replicate, and spread without the need for a trigger event.

Key Difference Between Virus and Worm

Computer viruses and worms are both capable of causing damage to a computer system. Hence, these two aren't exactly the same. Let’s discuss the main Difference Between Virus and Worm in the table below.

Virus

Worm

When a virus infects a file, the harmful code is copied and spreads across the host computer whenever subsequent files are opened.

To penetrate the gadget, a worm just needs a medium. This might be done via the internet, email, online messaging apps, and so forth.

In comparison to a worm, a virus takes less time to spread across the system.

A worm can spread swiftly through a device.

A virus is a destructive executable code that is attached to another executable file and can modify or erase data. 

A worm is a type of malware that can replicate itself and spread over a network of computers.

It necessitates the presence of a host in order to spread. 

It can replicate from one computer to another without the use of a host.

The primary goal of viruses is to alter information.

Worms' primary goal is to consume system resources.

Virus prevention is provided by antivirus software. 

Antivirus and firewall software can identify and eliminate worms. 

Viruses are incapable of being manipulated remotely. 

Remote control of worms is possible.

Virus vs Worm

Viruses are frequently attached to or hidden in shared or downloaded files, both executable (a program that runs a script) and non-executable (a document or an image file). The virus remains dormant until the infected host file is activated once it is accepted or loaded by a target machine. The virus can only run after the host file has been activated, executing malicious code and replicating it to infect other files on your system.

A worm generates several copies of itself, which it then spreads throughout a network or over the internet. These copies will infect any unprotected PCs or servers that connect to the infected device through a network or the internet.

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FAQs on Difference Between Virus and Worm

  • The Difference Between Virus and Worm in a computer is that the primary goal of viruses is to alter information. However, the primary goal of a worm is to consume system resources.

  • 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. A Trojan Horse is a type of malware that captures sensitive data from a system or a network.

  • Based on the speed, the Difference Between Virus and Worm is that the spreading speed of the virus is slower as compared to worms as it needs human action to replicate. While worms spread faster as they do not need human action to replicate.

  • A computer virus is malicious computer software that replicates itself and adds its own code when executed. A virus travels from one software program to the next. The different types of viruses are- Polymorphic virus, Macro virus, Spacefiller virus, Overwrite virus, File Infector virus, etc.

  • A computer worm is a self-contained harmful program that, if installed, can cause harm or damage to the device. The following are the different types of computer worms:

    • Internet worms
    • Instant messaging worms
    • Email worms
    • File sharing worms
    • Internet relay chat (IRC) worms
  • 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.

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