You are currently viewing Computer Virus vs Network Worm: What’s the Difference?
DDOS Attack, Infection trojan, virus attacks Data protection

Computer Virus vs Network Worm: What’s the Difference?

Viruses cause over 55 billion dollars of damages every year. In the last two years, more than 16 million Americans have had to deal with a serious computer virus. 

But viruses don’t just infect your computer. They can get into your network, too. 


It comes down to the type of virus.

We’ve put together this guide to take a look at the differences between a computer virus and a network worm. 

So make sure you keep reading below. 

What’s the Difference Between a Computer Virus and a Network Worm?

Computer viruses and network worms are similar. 

Because of this, before one can understand the difference between a computer virus and a network worm, they must ask two separate questions first: what is a virus and what is a worm?

We’ll take a closer look at both viruses and worms below. 

Let’s dive in. 

What Is a Virus? 

A virus is a tiny piece of code that infects a computer. Once it gets inside the system, it makes changes without the consent of the user. 

There are many different types of viruses that can do all kinds of different things. For example, some viruses get into your computer and start deleting files. Others can destroy your computer’s memory or make it crash any time you try to turn it on. 

How Do They Spread?

Viruses don’t have a high level of autonomy. In other words, they rely on humans to spread them from one computer to another. 

Think of a virus like the common cold. It only infects a computer if it comes into contact with it. This can be done through emails, flash drives, messages, attachments, and more. 

Viruses also need a host file. This is what contains the virus and spreads it to other computers.

Without a host file or a person to send that host file, viruses couldn’t get anywhere.  

What Is a Worm?

A worm is a type of malware, which is actually a virus subset. 

But worms don’t need a host file or the help of humans. 

Instead, they have a high level of autonomy. They can sneak into your network through weaknesses and replicate themselves on their own. In this way, they jump from one network to another, and they can do it without you even noticing. 

Worms spread fast. And they aren’t restricted to a specific area. They can potentially get into networks all over the world. 

They are also aggressive. Before you have a chance to remove them, they can suck up all your network’s bandwidth.

How Do They Spread?

Network worms spread on their own. They replicate themselves and search for vulnerabilities in networks they can use to sneak in. 

Because of this, they can jump from one network to the next very quickly. 

Understanding the Main Differences 

So what’s the main difference between viruses and worms? 

There are two: the level of autonomy and the way they spread. 

Apart from these two things, viruses and worms are similar. They both infect a computer or network and cause what can be serious damage. 

How to Get Rid of a Computer Virus or a Network Worm

If you’re dealing with a computer virus or a network worm, you’ll need to contact a professional malware removal company as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage your computer or network will take. 

It’s not a good idea to try to fight the malware on your own. 

Why not?

If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might end up making the problem worse. Even if you do figure out how to get rid of the virus or worm, it might take you a while. That means your system will be exposed to the threat for a longer period of time. 

How to Protect Yourself from Viruses and Worms 

The things that’ll protect your computer from viruses will also protect your network from worms. 

Here are a few things you should be doing to protect yourself from dangerous malware. 

Keep Your Software up to Date

Remember, worms get into your network through vulnerabilities. If you’re using old, outdated software, your network may not be able to defend itself against this malware. 

Always make sure any software you’re using is up to date. 

If your software doesn’t update automatically, make sure you set reminders so you know what to update it yourself. 

Install an Antivirus Protection

One of the best ways to protect yourself from viruses and worms is to install antivirus protection. 

This software will continuously scan your system one program at a time searching for any type of malware. If it finds anything, it will remove it. 

Antivirus software also can’t be manipulated by social engineering (one of the ways worms get into your system). So they won’t miss anything. 

Don’t Open Unfamiliar Emails, Messages, or Files

If you don’t know who sent an email or message, don’t open it. Dump it straight into your trash folder. 

Always stay away from suspicious looking files or links. Don’t open something you think could contain a virus even if you know who sent it. Instead, ask the sender if they did indeed send out the file. Only open the file if the sender confirms it’s safe. 

Know how to recognize phishing emails so you can stay away from them. 

Stay off Non-Secure Webpages

Never click on unsecured websites.

Before you visit a webpage, make sure it has HTTPS before the URL (rather than just HTTP). The extra S means the website is secure and safe. If you don’t see that S, find what you’re looking for somewhere else. 

Understanding Computer Viruses and Network Worms 

Though computer viruses and network worms have different levels of autonomy and use their own method to spread, they’re both bad news. If you get exposed to either of these malware types, you should get professional help right away. 

Not sure where to look for that help?

Make sure you click here to take a look at our malware removal services.