Security Basics: What’s the difference between ransomware and malware?

Credit: Muhammad Ribkhan |

While ransomware and malware can both sound pretty scary to an everyday user, it’s easy to get the two terms mixed up. Here’s a quick explanation designed to help you learn the differences and how the two relate to one another.

What is malware?

The most common definition of malware  is malicious software that has been deliberately designed to disrupt, damage, or compromise access to a computer system. Basically, anything that actively hurts or negatively affect your everyday usage of a computer.

Malware has been around in various forms for almost as long as computers themselves have been around. Ransomware, trojan horses, worms, spyware, and adware are all examples of types of malware.

How do I defend against malware?

Though common sense and smart safe internet practices (for example, not clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from dodgy-websites) can help minimize your exposure to malware, the only real way to ‘defend’ yourself against malware is with proper anti-virus software.

What about viruses?

Yep, viruses are also considered a type of malware. Unlike regular malware, however, they have the capacity to make copies of itself by infecting other files. As a result, once a virus has infected your system, it can be frustrating and difficult to fully eradicate it.

Credit: Boarding1now |

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a special kind of advanced ransomware that, once it has infected your PC, restricts your ability to effectively access or use it until you pay up. Basically, it locks you out of your PC and then tries to extort you into paying a fee to unlock it. The rise of anonymous crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum has made this particular type of malware increasingly-popular amongst cyber-criminals in recent years.

WannaCry and Petya are two examples of ransomware.

How do I defend against ransomware?

Again, as with all malware, the best defense against ransomware is dedicated anti-virus software supported by common sense and smart safe internet practices.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareransomware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Fergus Halliday
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?