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> Malware vs. Virus vs. Worm vs. Trojan    
 
   
dana
post Sep 13 2003, 06:44 PM
Post#1


UA Admin + Auntie Virus
Posts: 2,671
Joined: 15-July 02
From: USA


Often, I am asked what the difference is between a virus, a worm, and a trojan. Hopefully, this brief article will answer that question.

Malware” is the term used to describe any and all malicious software, including viruses, Trojan horse programs, and worms.

Even though "virus" has become a generic term to refer to all types of computer malware, it actually only applies to one specific type of malicious code/file. A computer virus does the same thing a biological virus does, for the most part. It infects a “host” (a file, boot sector, etc.) and then looks for ways to spread. The major things setting it apart from other malware are that it (1) replicates itself and (2) infects other files instead of existing as a standalone file. Viruses can be very harmful (e.g., erasing or damaging files) or they can be relatively benign (e.g., displaying an obscene message to the user on a given date).

[As a side note, here is an interesting tidbit about the term “virus,” for any who do reading on the subject of malware. You often see “viri” or “virii” used as plural forms of “virus.” Neither of those terms is correct. The correct English plural of the word “virus” is “viruses.” “Viri” is most commonly the Latin plural for “man,” and “virii” is a totally nonexistent word.]

Worms do not attach themselves to a host program or file the way a virus does; worms reside in active memory and stand alone with no need for a host. A worm does replicate itself like a virus, but it doesn’t do so by altering files. Instead, it replicates over computer networks. For example, email worms like BugBear replicate over private networks and the Worldwide Web network using email systems. Worms like CodeRed replicate over the Web and private networks without using email systems.

A Trojan horse program does not replicate itself, and it does not infect other files. A Trojan horse program (or, simply, “trojan” or “Trojan program”) is a malicious program that is contained within, or masquerades as, an innocent and useful program. The most widespread type of Trojan program is the type that installs “backdoor” access to a computer, through which a malicious person is allowed to remotely take control of the infected computer. An example of this is the BackOrifice Trojan program. The next most popular type is designed simply to steal passwords, credit card numbers, online banking data, or other personal information and send that information back to the malicious party. Hooker is an example of this type. Often, a Trojan program arrives, unknown to the victim, along with a screensaver or game. When the screensaver or game is run, it is designed to then install the Trojan program that is included with it. In that kind of scenario, the screensaver or game would be called a “dropper” because it “drops” the Trojan program onto the system.

Other forms of malware combine aspects of viruses, worms, and/or Trojans to become what is called "blended threats."
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dana
post Sep 18 2003, 05:47 PM
Post#2


UA Admin + Auntie Virus
Posts: 2,671
Joined: 15-July 02
From: USA


There is also an excellent short article about malware semantics by Mary Landesman at About.com. Click here to read it.
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