Malware vs. Adware vs. Spyware vs. Viruses

A lot of our customers have questions about the differences between malware, adware, spyware, and viruses, so we’ve decided to break down the main differences and explain how to avoid them.


  • Malicious program capable of replicating itself by modifying programs and inserting its own code
  • Damages your device by deleting/corrupting files
  • Can interfere with your computer operations
  • Often disguised as games, email attachments, images, website URLs, or shared files


  • Malicious computer program that spies on you
  • Scans your hard drive for personal information
  • Some record personal data you enter into websites
  • Some can interfere with your computer’s settings
  • Get it from opening emails, visiting websites, downloading programs


  • Software that tracks your browsing and creates pop-up ads related to sites you’ve visited
  • Can slow down your internet speed and computer processor
  • Some adware has spyware built in
  • Many people get it from software bundles (those pop-ups when installing new software)


  • “Malicious software” – Includes computer viruses, spyware & adware
  • Designed to interfere with normal computer operations
  • Gives hackers a chance to gain access to your computer and steal personal information