When I speak of ‘virus removal’ at my shop I am not only referring to virus’, but rather I am talking about infections of all types. On this post we are going to talk a little bit about what the differences are between them. In most cases, knowing the difference is not necessary, they all come by similar means and have similar effects.
Note: I often call the difference between the 3 a scam. I call it a scam because when you go to buy a security program, most of the time it will only address one of the 3, not all of them. Anti-virus usually only pick up virus’, anti-malware picking up only malware and a PUP remover clearing out pups. They all cause harm, but not many programs address all 3. Most good anti-malware programs do pick up PUP’s now, but not all do, so my point is still valid.
So on to the differences, or shall I call them definitions? (keep in mind that this is only an overview of each and will be expanded upon later.)
Please note: These are NOT actually what each are, technically malware includes virus’, trojans, worms, adware, and a host of other things. For the purposes of this guide we will be referring to each by the examples I give, it’s for simplicities sake, bear with me.
Simply put, a virus is much like a biological virus. When you run an infected program, the virus replicates it self over and over. For the purpose of this course, Virus’ mainly affect programs, but are not program themselves (see Malware and PuP’s). They are commonly gotten by downloading a crack for a program, downloading a pirated version of a program, downloading pirated music or opening unknown files and links in emails. Virus’ are the least likely of the 3 infections.
Malware is a stand alone program that was created to gain access or monitor sensitive information on a computer. Technically virus’ are included in this term, but in our case we will consider them as ‘stand alone’ programs, meaning that they are programs the come with built in infections. Malware tends to slow your computer down very quickly, it can lead to hacked account and identity theft. These are the second most common types of infections and are commonly obtained when downloading ‘free’ (not all free programs are bad) programs.
Potentially Unwanted Program
Here is the bread and butter of what comes into my shop, the grand daddy – PUP’s or Potentially Unwanted Programs. Most pop-ups, slow computers and computer freezes can be link to a PUP. Pups are programs that disguise themselves as good, but mainly harm your computer. They usually don’t take any sensitive data, but they rely on your clicking on advertising to make money. In a sense, a PUP is a program who’s sole purpose is to generate revenue. Common PUP’s have these phrases ‘clean my pc’ ‘speed up my pc’ ‘youtube downloader’ ‘free ____ converter’ to name a few; basically most things that promise to fix your computer or pirate video.
Now that we have a basic overview of what to look out for, we can expand a bit on what each type does and how to avoid them.