Antivirus vs Anti-Malware

The rise of cyber-crime has made computer security confusing for most users.

“I have an antivirus program installed.
Is it enough or do I need anti-malware solution?”

The answer to this question lies within another question.

“I have an antivirus program installed but I still got infected / hacked.
What should I do?”

These are just some of the questions asked over the years on internet forums.

As you can see in the second question, the threat spread even though Antivirus software was installed. Not knowing the difference between Antivirus and Anti-Malware software can lead to situations just like this one.

You were probably introduced to the term “Antivirus” when you purchased your first computer. Most likely, this was by the salesman who was trying to sell you additional software for your computer. Using their sales tactics they probably led you to assume that a virus attack is the worst thing that can happen to your computer.

What is a Virus

Viruses first came about in the 90s.
They were designed to replicate themselves on host computers and destroy the data.

Virus can be Direct action type which remains hidden in computer memory or Resident type which installs itself on computer system. Polymorphic virus is one of the most dangerous which changes its signature every time it replicates. Antivirus programs are capable of detecting only one variant so they they get confused.

Security software developers chose the word “Antivirus” and sold the product commercially. As time passed, new types of infections came into play which were not viruses. Soon, cyber criminals realised that there was no fun in just damaging data.

At least not when there was the chance to make a profit. The masterminds behind computer viruses became more interested in making profits of their own than causing your own losses.
This was how malware began to emerge.

What is Malware

Malware is an overarching term which consists of all kind of malicious software. A virus is also a Malware, but a Malware is not always a virus.

The fact that viruses were only able to incur a loss to the user but no profit to its developer (unless he was hired) gave rise to different kind of malware in cyberspace.

Malwares can be used for things such as stealing credit card details, revealing passwords, and spreading spam, just to name a few. They are programmed to work for their developers (Cyber Criminals) to act in way which would be financially beneficial.

Adware, Spyware, PUP, Botnet, Rootkits, Trojan, Dialers are all different types of malware.

Ransomware is the newest form of malware which is dominating cyberspace. It can encrypt data, lock the system access and demand that a ransom amount is paid in order for the computer to be unlocked. De-cryptors for Ransomware are currently being developed to unlock files for free. However, rapidly changing encryption algorithms are making it difficult to decrypt the malware.

Antivirus vs Anti-Malware

It is a myth that Antivirus software can only target viruses.

With the introduction of new infections, Antivirus companies had to change themselves and offer something extra. Antivirus companies started providing protection against other malware too.

However, we must remember the old saying “Jack of all trades, Masters of none”. This applies to traditional antivirus programs competing in the cyber age in the name of ‘Total Security’.

Antivirus programs cannot detect every infection and threat out there as they are constantly evolving. They are good at catching malware which spread through traditional methods like USB and Email attachments and depend on threat signatures for detection. Threat signatures means that only the known (signature) threats can be detected by most of the Antivirus programs.

Thousands of malware threats are being created while you’re reading this article, but who will deal with it?

Anti-Malware is the answer!

Anti-Malware is designed to detect newer malware from spreading through zero-day exploit, malvertising or any sophisticated form of communication like social media or messaging.For protection against advanced malware and new dangerous threats, Anti-Malware is must.

Antivirus or Antimalware? What to use?

The answer is to use both.

You should follow the Layered Security concept in order to achieve overall protection against cyber threats. This configuration is designed to mitigate potential weakness of one layer by another corresponding layer. Antivirus becomes the first layer of defense which will be responsible for classic threats. These are generally old but established viruses, worms and trojans.

Anti-Malware becomes the second layer which then targets and detects the latest malware. It even has the capability of detecting unknown malware using Intrusion Detection and Behavioral Blocker techniques.

Is it okay to have two real-time protection programs running at same time?

Anti-Malware solutions are referred to as second opinion scanners. They are designed to run alongside Antivirus without creating any conflict. MalwareFox, for example, is lightweight and requires fewer system resources to run the program. It has low memory usage and has fast scanning capabilities so it does not impact on any other software or programs that are running.

Having antivirus and antimalware real-time protection enabled at the same time shouldn’t be a problem.

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Leave a Reply 10 comments

Ava Wright - February 22, 2017 Reply

So in overall, we use the term “Malware” to describe more advanced kinds of viruses?

    Jamie Wolf - February 23, 2017 Reply

    I think that a virus can also be referred as Malware but yes, in most cases we are talking about the newer kinds of threats and such.

    Gerardo Angelo - March 8, 2017 Reply

    I think it would be for the best if you’d stop focusing on these terms, they won’t make that much of a difference to your knowledge. What matters, is that in the end we’ll need both an Antivirus and an Anti-Malware to stay safe, there is no need to complicate things any further.

Chad Klug - February 24, 2017 Reply

What about Antivirus programs that can offer protection from both viruses and malware?

    Bernd Eichmann - February 27, 2017 Reply

    Usually these Antivirus programs can not offer a full fledged Antivirus or Anti-Malware, that is because they’re trying to fit two features that require a lot of time and devotion into one application. It’s kinda hard to fit two applications that are already hard to manage individually into one, it’s recommended that you use one Antivirus that specializes as an Antivirus and one Anti-Malware that specializes as an Anti-Malware.

Erik Klug - February 28, 2017 Reply

I never knew that it’s possible to have two security programs installed without experiencing major slowdowns, or without having any conflicts between the two of them.

    Jürgen Grunwald - March 1, 2017 Reply

    I know right? I only wish that I had known earlier, by the time I learnt about the existence of Anti-Malware programs I was infected with numerous adware programs.

Alex De La Ronde - March 3, 2017 Reply

There have been numerous times where my Antivirus missed a malware and my Anti-Malware removed it so yeah, we need both an Antivirus and an Anti-Malware.

    Egil Söderström - March 6, 2017 Reply

    What kind of malware? It shouldn’t be a big deal, Antivirus programs usually ignore threats that are not dangerous, like adware and such.

      Licia Manna - March 7, 2017 Reply

      You’re partly right on that, while adware is not something worthy of concern, it can be troublesome if you get infected by a lot of them. So it can be a big deal and the use of Anti-Malware in this occasion seems like a good idea.

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