Difference Between Malware and Virus

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: October 17th, 2023

The main difference between malware and a virus is that virus is a type of malware. Many people think of Malware and Viruses as one and the same thing and often use these terms interchangeably. This is because malware and viruses can harm computers and other internet-powered devices. However, there is a considerable difference between malware and viruses.

Difference Between Malware and Virus PDF

Given the rise in online security threats, it is important to understand the difference between Malware and Viruses so that adequate steps can be taken to prevent them. We have shared all the differences and a detailed comparison between the two here.

What is the Difference Between Malware and Virus?

The key difference between a virus and malware is that a virus is a type of malware, and while malware and viruses are both designed to steal user information, they affect devices differently. The comparison is an essential concept and can be asked in the GATE CSE exam. The difference between malware and virus is shared in the table below.

Malware vs Virus

Malware and Virus



Malware refers to online software created to get unauthorized access to a computer network, usually for a third-party advantage.

A virus refers to a code that fixes itself to different programs and files that get infected so that they can corrupt and disrupt a device.

The full form of the term Malware is Malicious Software.

The full form of the term Virus is Vital Information Resource Under Seize.

The major types of Malware include Trojan, Viruses, Ransomware, Spyware, Worm and Adware.

Viruses include Boot sector, Multipartite, Resident, Spacefiller, Polymorphic, File infector, Macro, and Direct Action.

A computer device with malware software can be fixed using antimalware software.

Antivirus is used to eliminate viruses from a computer network.

Top Anti-Malware software includes Malwarebytes, Hitman Pro, and Bitdefender.

Top Antivirus software includes McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, and Avast.

Malware vs Virus and Effects on Computer System

The primary difference between malware and viruses is how they affect the computer system. These effects may be used to test the candidates’ knowledge in the GATE CSE question paper. In the table shared below, we have shared the details about how malware and viruses may affect a computer system.



The malware attempts to retrieve the private data of an individual or an entity.

Viruses can cause a reduction in the processing speed of a computer system.

The malware executes unwanted jobs and overpowers its presence over the computer system.

When a computer system is affected by a virus, diverse programs begin to implement themselves.

Malware steals information like payment details or saved cards.

A virus can cause your passwords to get reset.

Malware can introduce mining for bitcoin.

Viruses can cause too many pop-ups on the screen.

Malware and Virus

Malware is a kind of vicious software intended to infect the primary network. On the other hand, a virus is a kind of malware that infects online files and folders and then spreads through a network whenever the program or file runs. Here, we have shared some key points that will help you understand the difference between malware and viruses.

What is a Malware?

Malware refers to an umbrella phrase that comprises all kinds of malicious software. Here are some key details about malware –

  • Malware is designed to attack companies, enterprises, and people by eliminating resources and data, inducing errors, and slowing down system performance.
  • Malware enters a networked device through software installations, emails, or Internet surfing.
  • In addition, trojan horses, viruses, spyware, and worms are the kinds of malware, along with a few other more dangerous malware.

What is a Virus?

A virus is a type of malware that performs specific jobs, including monitoring and stalking user activities and accumulating personal information. Here are more details about viruses:

  • Viruses typically install themselves on the user network and deliver profit to the third party by gathering the user’s information without their knowledge.
  • A virus steals the personal information and passwords of the users by operating in the background of your device.
  • Viruses are a type of malware.
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