Viruses or Malware, What is the Difference?

There has been a Computer Virus Outbreak! Hello I’m Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support here to talk to you about Viruses or Malware, what is the Difference?

 Let’s get started. Malware, Spyware, Viruses, hijackers, junkware, Trojans and Worms What are the difference between these classifications? Well believe it or not malware and viruses are not different things but instead viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms, hijackers and spyware are all different types of Malware. Malware is a broad term of software that is used cause malicious harm to a computer. Viruses is a type of malicious software that is meant to replicate and spread like an actual human virus. Because viruses are more popular especially early on in the computer age. Companies concentrated and coming up with “Antivirus” software it wasn’t until recently that other types of malware has shown up and viruses are now a minority.

So let start with a little history, when was the first computer virus? Computer viruses date back all the way to 1949 when John von Neumann, who is known to be the “Father of Cybernetics”, wrote an article on the “Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata” that was published in 1966.

Later in 1971 Bob Thomas developed an experimental self-replicating program. It accessed through ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and copied to a remote host system with TENEX operating system. A message displayed that “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”. Later the first antivirus called the “REAPER” was created to seek out and delete the creeper.

In 1974 Wabbit was an infectious program developed to make multiple copies of itself on a computer clogging the system reducing the performance of the computer. In 1981, A program called the “Elk Cloner” was developed by Richard Skrenta for the Apple II Systems. This was created to infect Apple DOS 3.3. These programs started to spread through files and folders that are transferred to other computers by floppy disk.

In 1983 Virus was first coined by Frederick Cohen for the computer programs that are infectious as it has the tendency to replicate. But it really wasn’t until mid to late 80’s the first antivirus program was made.

So now that we know Viruses are just a type of Malware. The question becomes what should you use antivirus or antimalware? Do they really work? Who do I trust?

Like the Reaper from 1971 it specifically was designed to detect the creeper and eliminate it. IF there was a different type of malware back then it wouldn’t have been able to find and remove it only the one it was targeted to eliminate. That is similar to how vaccines are made that fight human viruses. So antivirus programs contain many signatures or vaccines of known viruses. The traditional antivirus programs used signature based detection. It is hard to remember the world before the internet but early on the big names of the time all subscribed to a bbs mailing list where they tracked and detected new malware. They essentially would reverse engineer the virus and come up with a way to stop them.

Many “ANTI” programs detect all kinds of malware. They now deploy different scanning techniques in addition to signature based. There is heuristic which detects variants of malware, behavioral base detection which looks at the behavior of a program and it if acts like a virus it will isolate the program.

There are a lot of antivirus/antimalware and they are not all the same, some do a better job than others. None claim to be 100%. Over the years I have seen my fair share of antivirus applications and when I was starting Underdog I wanted to make sure the antimalware application we deploy can be trusted and is reliable. After careful consideration, we decided to offer Webroot Secure Anywhere Cloud Antivirus. Webroot uses Machine learning to detect malware. Machine learning is the next level of detection and Webroot has been doing it longer than most. If you remember me saying signature based detection requires a human to get a malware, dissect it and then come up with an “antibody”. Machine learning removes the human from the equation thus making it faster and more precise to create “antibodies”.  To keep your computer safe and your company safe you need to have a antimalware program that deploys machine learning like our Cloud Based Solution using Webroot. Cybersecurity is more important today and will be in the next decade. Call me today 570-634-5350. Stay tune for Part 3 BOTS turning your computer into a Zombie! Underdog Computer and Network Support. Never Fear, We Fix I.T. here!