Here’s the Ransomware vs Virus vs Malware showdown.
Data breach in the US in 2020 costs an average of $3.86 million (IBM), 17% of breaches are caused by malware, 22% by phishing, and 45% by hacking attacks (VERIZON), the cybersecurity market is estimated to hit $170.4 billion in 2022 (GARTNER).
From the above statistics, cyber threats and malware attacks are costing individuals, businesses, and organizations billions of dollars in losses, and this is estimated to increase with the increasing 5G broadband penetration worldwide.
Computer virus, ransomware, worms, Trojans, spyware, rootkits, bugs, etc., are different types of malware often confused with each other. This article clarifies the differences between malware, ransomware, and virus and how best to protect yourself from different types of malware attacks.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware programmed to demand ransom from you by hijacking your system, encrypting your files, or locking you out with no access to your system.
You regain access to your system after paying the ransom demanded by the hacker responsible for the ransomware attack. The attacker has the public encryption key, which he sends to you after confirming payment.
A famous example of a Ransomware attack is the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017 which spread to over 150 countries worldwide, affecting around 230,000 computers by exploiting a vulnerability existing in old Windows OS, of which a patch update has been provided long before the attack.
The attack costs the British NHS hospitals an estimated sum of 92 million and USD 4 billion in costs of damages worldwide.
How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks
- Keep your OS software and apps updated
- Back up your system regularly. Depending on your need, you can provide backup for important files only.
- Use reliable antivirus software to enjoy complete protection from ransomware and other types of malware attacks.
What Is A Virus?
Viruses are also a type of malware that affects your system negatively. Unlike ransomware, a virus will not encrypt your files or programs and demand ransom. Rather, a virus infects a program or file on your computer, and it is activated on your system when you run the infected program.
The virus, once activated, replicates itself and spread to other programs and computers on the network, causing extensive damages such as slowing down your system performance by occupying your system RAM, blocking internet access, destroying files on the system, damaging your hard drive, or even crashing your system.
A widespread virus attack is the ILOVEYOU virus attack that happened in the year 2000. The virus spread through email an email attachment titled ‘LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs.’ once the virus is activated by downloading the attachment, the virus spread to all programs, rewriting system files. The virus was estimated to have cost $15 billion in damages.
Viruses spread from computer to computer via file sharing, infected storage devices, visiting malicious sites, downloading files from unknown sources, and opening email attachments.
How To Protect Yourself From Viruses
- Avoid clicking on email attachments, not from known sources
- Download software from trusted app stores
- Avoid clicking on pop-up windows during browsing
- Scan all removable storage media
- Install an antivirus to enjoy complete protection from viruses and other cyber threats.
What Is A Malware?
Malware is short for malicious ware (malicious software that affects your productivity, destroys useful programs installed on your system, or even causes total damage to your computer).
Malware is a general term for describing harmful or rogue programs intended to cause damage to users’ PC or steal valuable data in some instances. Hence, both ransomware and viruses are different types of malware.
Types of malware include Ransomeware, Cryptojackers, viruses, Trojans, worms, adware, rootkits, spyware, etc.
Emotet is a famous Trojan attack used by hackers to steal financial information. Emotet costs a million-dollar loss to Allentown, a financial organization in Pennsylvania.
How To Protect Yourself From Malware
- Be wary of opening email links and downloading attachments in emails
- Close all pop-up windows without clicking
- Avoid downloading files and programs from unknown and unverified sites
- Keep your OS and other programs updated
- Do not use admin privileges while browsing online
- Limit file sharing
- Install a recommended antivirus suite on your computer.
Conclusion – Ransomware Vs Virus Vs Malware
Daily as the world advances in technology, so does malware get more intelligent and develop evading mechanisms to avoid antivirus detection.
Installing an Antivirus on your system keeps you protected from known and evolving malware using cloud technology, advanced AI, and Machine Language to identify and eliminate known and unknown malware threats.