Computer Virus, Malware, Spyware and Adware: What's the Difference?
Viruses, spyware, and adware are all malware with distinct differences. All of them do damage to legitimate computer users but they fall into different categories depending on the intent of their attack.
Viruses are a bit of malicious code that is secretly included in an application you decide to download. It replicates itself to infect other computers. Eventually, the virus is activated for its purpose: deleting important files, corrupting information, or randomly shutting off your computer.
Spyware is malicious software that gets installed without the user even knowing about it. This is usually the most dangerous form of attack. It invades your internet security to find sensitive information from your computer and sell it for a price on the black market.
Adware, on the other hand, is a unique form of software specifically written to produce popup ads. The popups can start as the user uses a certain application, when they visit a particular website online, or simply as soon as they boot up their computer. The most deceptive form of adware shows a popup telling the user their computer is infected and that they need to install antivirus software.