Malware VS Ransomware: What’s the Difference?

malware vs ransomware

To deal with any problem successfully you should first have a clear understanding of what you are dealing with. Nowadays the cyber threat landscape has expanded enormously with online cyber threat elements prevailing. And it would be erroneous to think that only specialists from the IT field need to know what they might come across in their versatile jobs.

Ordinary users no less need to have at least general knowledge of what cyber threats they may also come across while just hanging on the internet. Two of the most distinct and interrelated terms of cyber threats – malware and ransomware – should be taken first when considering the beginning of one’s own study of this particular field.

To Understand The Terms: Malware VS Ransomware

The term ‘Malware’ means an intrusive software developed by cybercriminals (they are also called hackers) with the aim to steal data, disrupt the work of computers, computer systems or damage them. The term includes various kinds of cyber threats like ransomware, adware, spyware, Trojan viruses, worms and viruses. Also, malware is a contraction form of ‘malicious software’

Ransomware is a malware that encrypts victim’s files and data, applications so that they can no longer be accessed. Then the ransom demand is presented for the victim to have the access to encrypted files resumed. This kind of malware has the ability to quickly and efficiently spread across a network and so paralyze the entire organization’s operations. Usually the ransomware infection happens via phishing scam when unknowingly clicking on the malicious link a victim downloads the malware. Every year ransomware attacks bring cybercriminals millions of dollars and inflict damage on companies and enterprises in no less sums of money.

Let’s list and describe the most annoying and dangerous malware attacks in all areas that can cause problems.

What Are The Main Types Of Malware

In addition to ransomware, the malware family includes other most common cyber attacks today:

  • Adware1. Not necessarily a malicious program but in some instances can cause some damage. It collects your internet user activity and displays ads relevant to your online interests. But when cybercriminals exploit it for their own purposes this program may show you the ads that when you click on them you can get infected with some spyware or trojan horse. It is important to remember that Gridinsoft Adware Removal Tool detects, removes and prevents adware.;
  • Spyware2. Pretty stealthy program which gets secretly installed on your device and in the same way does its malicious tasks. Spyware steals your sensitive information like personal or financial and gives it back to some remote user. One of the examples of spyware is keylogger. It captures victim’s every keystroke made on a keyboard to steal your passwords or other valuable information;
  • Trojan viruses3. Cybercriminals disguise this malware as some useful and popular programs but once a user downloads it trojan virus will begin modifying data on the victim’s device like changing, blocking or deleting it. Contrary to the viruses and worms that can self-replicate, trojans can’t do this;
  • Worms. This kind of malware boasts its ability to spread quickly and efficiently across networks and devices. It doesn’t need a host program to start the infection and gets onto the victim’s device via network connection or some downloaded file. Worms aim to disrupt targeted devices operations and inflict data loss;
  • Virus. It hides within different files or documents that support macros for execution of the malicious code. Viruses easily spread from host to host laying dormant until the victim opens a malicious file or document. The virus infection causes disruptions in device’s operations and loss of data. But, can malware spread over a shared Wi-Fi connection?
Explore the benefits of using malware protection, why you need it or top threats that Gridinsoft Anti-Malware catches.

What Are The Main Types Of Ransomware

Ransomware as a particular kind of malware has a long history of development. Throughout its course there were created different hybrid ransomware variants based on other malware kinds such as like:

  1. Ransomware Wipers. The most famous example of this variant will be NotPetya ransomware. Even though this malware was designed to look like ransomware, it actually just encrypts files without providing victims a decryption key. Specialists came to the conclusion that the only purpose of this ransomware variant is to deny access to files or computers by the sole encryption;
  2. Data Breaching Ransomware. The main profit for the ransomware operators comes from paid ransoms. But sometimes victims can be unwilling to pay the demanded ransom and for such a case criminals added additional functionality to force victims to pay. They developed a ransomware variant where all the data that will be encrypted gets beforehand stolen and sent to criminals. When some victim won’t be willing to pay cybercriminals threaten them to leak previously stolen data unless the payment is made;
  3. Ransomware Worms. This ransomware variant combines both ransomware and worm functions. Ransomware worms encrypt data and further spread by themselves to encrypt as much data as possible. The most known example of ransomware worms is WannaCry.
Knowing about cybersecurity threats is critical as it brings security measures to life.

What Is The Main Differences Between Malware And Ransomware

Although ransomware is the part of the large malware tree it differs in some aspects from the general characteristics of the whole tree. The aspects that show the difference can be described as the next:

  • Most malware actions focus on damaging data and theft of various valuable information while ransomware solely focuses on encrypting files and holding it hostage until the ransom is paid;
  • You can get infected with malware on suspicious and shady websites, via USB drives, compromised network connection, email, etc. But in the case with ransomware the infection mostly happens via malicious email attachments;
  • Most of the malware can be easily detected and removed by antivirus software. To do the same with ransomware takes much more efforts;
  • Ransomware involves serious criminal responsibility because ransomware operators do what is called financial blackmailing crime;
  • With most malware infections you still can use your device somehow while ransomware completely cuts off your control over the computer.
  • Ransomware infection can destroy the whole business while malware can make only limited not so global damages;
  • Malware includes a variety of malicious code and programs. Ransomware in its turn is the only such kind of malware;


Cyber security has never been more important than today. To ensure you have your own security in place along with learning different cyber security things you also need to have appropriate tools for maintaining that security. Try to use Gridinsoft Anti-Malware to be confident enough in your knowledge against numerous cyber threats continuously going after your privacy and security.

Download Anti-Malware

  1. Adware is a program designed to force you to see ads.
  2. Spyware is a virus that records all your activities, registers your location, your IP address, and so on.
  3. Trojan Virus are malicious code or software that claim to be doing something useful but are doing something harmful.

By Stephanie Adlam

I write about how to make your Internet browsing comfortable and safe. The modern digital world is worth being a part of, and I want to show you how to do it properly.

View all of Stephanie Adlam's posts.

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