Difference between Malware and Adware

A Malware is a malicious program that is used by attackers to perform illegal operations on a user's machine, such as stealing personal information, corrupting system/network, encrypting data for "ransom" or deleting the data, etc.

An Adware is a program that displays Ads during its execution. Developers get money from this advertisement. This application may capture user activity and display ads accordingly. An attacker can misuse this feature of adware and can compromise the system security.

Read through this article to find out more about Malware and Adware and how they are different from each other.

What is a Malware?

Malware is any program purposefully meant to harm a computer, server, client, or computer network. Software that causes accidental harm due to a flaw is referred to as a software bug.

  • Computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, rogue software, wiper, and scareware are just a few examples of Malware.

  • Malware is sometimes defined as software that covertly acts against the user's best interests. To assist guard against the introduction of Malware, a variety of antivirus software, firewalls, and other techniques are utilized.

  • Many early infectious programs, including the first Internet Worm, were written as experiments or pranks. Today, Malware is used by both black hat hackers and governments to steal personal, financial, or business information.

  • Malware is sometimes used against the government or corporate websites to gather sensitive data or to disrupt their operation in general. At the same time, Malware may be used against individuals to steal personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, and passwords.

What is an Adware?

Adware, sometimes known as advertising-supported software, is software that makes income for its creator by displaying Internet adverts in the software's user interface or on a screen displayed to the user during the installation process.

  • Two forms of revenue may be generated by the program. One is for the advertisement's display, and the other is on a "pay-perclick" basis if the user clicks on it.

  • Some adverts function as spyware, collecting and reporting information about the user, sold or utilized for targeted advertising or user profiling.

  • Advertisements can be shown in a variety of ways in the program, including a static box display, a banner display, a full screen, a video, a pop-up ad, or in some other form.

  • All forms of advertising carry health, ethical, privacy and security risks for users.

  • Some software developers provide their products for free and rely on advertising revenue to recoup their costs and create money. Some companies also charge a price for a version of the program that is free of advertisements.

Difference between Malware and Adware

The following table highlights the important differences between Malware and Adware.

ConceptMalware is a malicious program that is purposefully designed to harm a device or a network.Adware is a program that contains ads and can collect user activity information for Ads purpose.
HarmfulMalware is always harmful.Adwares are generally safe to use.
DistributionMalware is distributed without knowledge of enduser. Emails or spurious software installations can have malware with them.Adwares are generally introduced to the user via pop-up windows, ads to download and install them.
PurposeA malware does illegal activities like destroying/corrupting end user's computers, etc.Adwares show ads to benefit the developers.
PreventionTo prevent a malware, use a good quality antivirus; check emails for authentic sources and stay aware.To prevent misuse, always install adware from a known and authentic source.


Malicious Malware has become increasingly common since the widespread availability of high-speed Internet connections. The bulk of widely distributed viruses and worms have been intended to take control of users' systems. Malware is a type of software that is meant to penetrate a user's computer and network. Adware is a type of malware that is disguised as advertising in order to capture your personal data. Malware is far more dangerous than Adware.

Updated on: 22-Aug-2022

1K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started