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Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software for Agencies

Every small business owner should prioritize using effective software to prevent virus infection.  Whenever someone begins their search for online security, they ultimately discover there are two major types of protection: antivirus and anti-malware. Which leads them to the inevitable query:  What’s the difference between antivirus and anti-malware? 


To best understand, let’s quickly define viruses and malware;

  • A virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself in order to do damage to your computer, including corrupting your system or destroying data.
  • Malware, on the other hand, is an umbrella term that stands for a variety of malicious software, including Trojans, spyware, worms, adware, ransomware - and yes- viruses.
So logically, all viruses are malware, but not all malware are viruses.

Differences in protection

Antivirus usually deals with the older, more established threats, such as Trojans, viruses, and worms.

Anti-malware, by contrast, typically focuses on newer stuff, such as polymorphic malware (allowing subroutines to use variables of different types at different times), and malware delivered by zero-day exploits.

No one tool can catch everything, which is why security experts recommend a ‘layered’ approach.

The most complete strategy is to use an antivirus program to catch the classic threats, and an anti-malware program for the newer, more advanced dangers.  Note that some providers are now packaging anti-virus and anti-malware together in one product.

From a performance perspective, there’s no negative impact of running two real-time scanners at the same time on your machines; most anti-malware software is lightweight, easy-to-run, and designed to work alongside antivirus.


Top Antivirus software:

Solid Antivirus programs come at a price, however are reasonably priced.  Top names are McAfee, Norton, Webroot, and Bitdefender along with other providers.

For a side-by-side comparison, refer to these links from PC Magazine and Consumer Reports.

Top Anti-malware software:

Anti-malware programs can be either free or at-cost, usually based on seat licenses.  The best offerings can be combined with Antivirus programs as well.  Top names in antimalware are Malwarebytes, Webroot, McAfee, Norton, Avast, TrendMicro, and Bitdefender.  As with anti-virus, there are also other anti-malware providers.

For a side-by-side comparison, refer to these links from PC Magazine and Computer Fixperts.


Each small business owner should have a robust prevention program as part of an overall cybersecurity strategy.  One key to note is to set your antivirus and anti-malware to detect and install updates automatically. 

ACT will update this advisory as new threats and prevention software becomes available.

Updated 20201Jul06

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