What Are the Differences Between Antivirus and Antimalware?

Justin Oyaro

By Justin Oyaro . 12 February 2024

Cybersecurity Expert

Miklos Zoltan

Fact-Checked this

Antivirus and antimalware are commonly interchangeable terms used to refer to software that you can use to protect your device from malware threats.

Categorically, antivirus and antimalware software address different types of threats. Nonetheless, nowadays, antivirus software contains anti-malware modules and hence the confusion.

This article will define antivirus and antimalware and highlight their clear differences.

Let’s get started!

What is an Antivirus?

Antivirus software prevents scans, detects, and removes viruses from a computer system. As its name suggests, traditionally, it protects against viruses.

Since it deals with viruses and viruses are malware, antivirus software is a specialized antimalware that only deals with one type of malware – computer viruses.

Due to the proliferation of malware, antivirus companies include antimalware modules in their antivirus software.

Thus, comprehensive antivirus software can also deal with other malware threats besides viruses.

However, they are limited to known malware threats and cannot be used like antimalware.

What is an Antimalware?

Antimalware software offers proactive protection against all malware, including worms, adware, ransomware, spyware, phishing threats, and other malicious software.

It also deals with sophisticated threats like zero-day and new malware that can evade antivirus software.

Differences Between Antivirus and Antimalware

Due to the inclusion of antimalware modules in antivirus software, the contrast between the two is not that much.

Nonetheless, there are apparent differences between antivirus and antimalware.

Antivirus Antimalware
Definition Prevents, scans, detects, and removes viruses from a computer system. Protection against all forms of malware, including advanced and sophisticated malware threats.
Scope Deals with established and known threats. Deals with complex, polymorphic, and zero-day newer threats.
Detection technique Primarily uses signature-based techniques to protect against threats. It mainly uses behavioral-based techniques to detect and stop threats.
Features Real-time scanning and threat removal. Proactive protection through sandboxing and traffic filtering.
Use case It is primarily deployed on personal computers. Primarily used in organizations and institutions.
Updates Gets threat definition updates periodically. Gets frequent updates for proactive protection.
Protection compatibility Conflicts with other antivirus software due to detection techniques. Complements antivirus software without conflicts.


Do You Need Both Antivirus and Antimalware?

This depends on the protection scope of your antivirus software. If you have basic antivirus software, it is recommended to have antimalware for malware removal.

Users with comprehensive antivirus suites get complete protection since the software has antimalware capabilities.

Nonetheless, you can have both antivirus and antimalware software. You will enjoy real-time and proactive protection since antimalware, and antivirus software can work side by side.

Wrap Up

Irrespective of the extent of their security coverage, employing antivirus or antimalware software is recommended to defend against emerging and complex malware challenges.

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