Antivirus vs anti-malware: absolutely everything you need to know about

18 Mar, 2021 4 min read
John Tunay
John Tunay
Technical Product Marketing Manager
There’s no doubt you’re familiar with the terms anti-virus and anti-malware by now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Windows or Mac user, or if you’re using a desktop, a laptop, or a mobile device – anti-virus and anti-malware software has become an important part of everyday computing. 
The problem, however, is there’s a big difference between anti-virus and anti-malware and the terms are often used interchangeably. So let’s break it down.

Anti-virus: the traditional PC protection we've come to know

In the early days of PC computing, computer threats were designed to do one thing – to wreak havoc on computer systems. These were computer viruses, and they’ve captured the minds of people because of the amount of press they received for quickly spreading and doing all sorts of damage.
That’s how anti-virus programs started coming into the picture. The first ever anti-virus was actually another virus designed to kill a target virus and in the late 80s and 90s the first anti-virus companies were born. Spread across the globe they each boasted their own set of features designed to combat computer viruses.

Anti-malware: the umbrella term we ought to use but don't

As technology started to mature in the early 2000’s the type of actions that PC threats pose started to vary.
While a virus would cause trouble by making itself known to the user and disabling or hindering functionality (the same way in which the common flu knocks us humans down), other types of malicious software threats, otherwise known as malware started to emerge. It’s no different from how the common cold could exacerbate into a major health issue. The rise of this malware is because of the wealth of data that technology has created. 
Malicious software, or malware, is therefore the term that covers a host of different threats to digital computing such as spyware, Trojans, adware, and even viruses. Despite this, the term ‘virus’ from earlier years has definitely stuck. It doesn't help that pop-culture generalises digital threats as computer viruses – how many times have you heard the term ‘malware’ on a movie or TV show? 
That’s probably why most consumer security solution vendors still refer to their products as an anti-virus program instead of an anti-malware program. It’s a catch 22 really. Despite developing malware protection features or even malware removal tools, the public is still seeking anti-virus solutions.

So, who ‘wins’ in the battle of anti-virus vs anti-malware?

Anti-malware is the technically correct term for the solutions that are available today. Since there are so many types of malware out there, any cybersecurity company worth their salt wouldn’t release a solution that’s just a traditional anti-virus program. Today’s cybersecurity solutions need to detect various forms of malware to keep up with the evolving threat landscape.
However, the term is still highly interchangeable. So, whether you’re looking for an anti-virus or an anti-malware, you’ll generally be covered against both viruses and malware, but to be sure look out for the mention of zero-day exploits, polymorphic threats, adware and spyware.

Windows malware protection for everyone

If you’re looking for personalised Windows malware protection against known and unknown threats, you’re in the right place! Our solution, CatchPulse protects home devices from the increasing number of security threats WITHOUT forcing you to become a cybersecurity expert. 
Not only does it play well with other cybersecurity applications, including your existing anti-malware or anti-virus solution, but it also is AI-powered, offering security across multiple devices, and providing protection from advanced persistent threats including fileless attacks. 
‘Why do I need another anti-malware or anti-virus solution?’ I hear you say. 
Well, traditional anti-virus solutions require a constantly updated deny list of known threats – a bit like driving only with your rear-view window. CatchPulse on the other hand uses the power of AI to create a personalised allow-list which will deny both known and unknown threats. When the AI is in doubt it will alert you to make a decision (recommendations provided), thereby giving you 100% protection. 
We call this a zero-trust model, which you can read more about here. It’s in stark contrast with competitive approaches which apply blanket rules to detected threats, such as delete or quarantine, which can have unintended consequences.
Unsure? Try our FREE version with basic AI-powered Windows malware protection. Download here

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