Computer Security is a hot topic and we tend to throw phrases around and not know what they truly mean. Today I'd like to look at words we've all heard and clear up what they mean.
We've all heard about malware. Malware is malicious software. Malicious software has two parts to it. The first thing it has to do is find a way to spread and the second thing it has to do is perform some action. In industry terms you'll hear “propagation mechanism” and “payload”. The former phrase being the delivery and the latter being the action.
There are two we will discuss are Worms and Viruses. So they are both malware. The difference is on how they spread. A worm in I.T is a lot like the real one we see in the ground. It moves on its own from system to system. It looks for weaknesses and exploits them in systems.
A Virus on the other hand also takes its pointers from a real life virus. Think of the common cold. The cold is a virus that is spread from person to person via people. The cold can't go anywhere it has to be given to a person or picked up from a shared object. Computer viruses are the same.
A computer virus can't move on its own. Someone has to download it, load it in their system via an infected word doc. Whatever way it may get from one system to another , what you you'll know for sure is, a human had a hand in getting it there.
The next time someone uses the term worm and virus interchangeable you can ask for details to find out what they really mean.