Long before the advent of artificial intelligence, in the days when you could choose the color of your Mac to match the design of your room, computer viruses were relatively simple. Detecting a threat was as easy as finding a "creeper system" in a line of program code. Today, the original virus profile has almost disappeared into oblivion, while more dangerous forms of malware have taken center stage. Although viruses are indeed a type of malware, not all types of malware are viruses – some are more dangerous, some are less. So what is the difference between an antivirus and an anti-malware program?

Viruses and malware are not the same thing

Let's start with viruses: these are pieces of code that are potentially infinitely replicated, infecting one or more parts of the computer. They have been around for a long time, and their ultimate goal is to damage the system. They are inserted through email attachments or when downloading insecurely.

Malware, on the other hand, gets into your computer not to damage it, but to steal data. The malware works as a link between the PC and an external component, to which data is transmitted for use for fraudulent purposes. Malware can get into the system not only with downloads and attachments, but also when visiting unsafe sites.

How antivirus and malware protection work

Like viruses, antivirus software has been around for a long time and is designed to protect your computer from malware and other dangers such as keyloggers and phishing attacks. A good antivirus can perform a background scan of the entire system and check websites and emails in real time, constantly update itself, identify even less common variants of viruses and malware, eliminate viruses and block the risks of other sources, such as phishing.

Anti-malware software should also be able to perform a full system scan and Internet access. But also to protect Internet banking and filter data traffic. First of all, good antivirus software needs to be updated in real time for second-generation malware and block sites that can infect your computer.

Do you need to have an antivirus and an anti-malware program?

It seems that antivirus is the less functional solution of these two security programs, so why do you need both?

The anti-malware program focuses on new threats, while the antivirus protects you from traditional threats such as worms and phishing attacks that can still damage your device. These two solutions complement each other, and anti-malware programs are designed to complement antivirus protection as the cyber threat landscape becomes more complex.

Think of antivirus as proactive protection against threats that can infect your device, while an anti-malware program eradicates and destroys already activated malware. The presence of both applications provides the maximum level of protection against the growing threat from malicious attacks.

As cyberattacks become more widespread and intelligent in nature, anti-malware programs adapt to them and gain opportunities to protect against them. However, this does not limit the need for antivirus protection. With both programs running at the same time, combined with the habits of safe web browsing, you will be protected as much as possible.