What’s the Difference Between Malware, Ransomware, and Spyware?

A closer look at Malware, Ransomware, and Spyware. Do you know the differences? 

Here at Legal Shred, we strive to keep you informed on all the latest safety and security precautions you should take to keep malicious threats from targeting your personal data. To offer some inside tips and outline steps to protect your business, we’ve introduced our newest Cybersecurity 101 for Small Businesses series.

In this installment, we’re overviewing the different types of security threats we hear about every day: Malware, Ransomware, and Spyware, so you know what to look for and how to protect yourself.


This threat invades computer systems via malicious software or code. It’s the umbrella term for which most other threats to our computer systems falls under and makes its way typically through a file download, app download (yes mobile devices are also targets, and this is increasingly the case today), by clicking on an infected website, or some other way to install it unknowingly. Once there, it can take over your system, view your activity without you knowing it, slow down your computer and force a bunch of pesky ads to appear on your system. The intent is to gain illicit access to your financial funds.


When you’ve been locked out of your device and are being asked to pay a ransom to get access back, you have become a victim of ransomware. This form of malware is used by cybercriminals as a quick way to get money using cryptocurrency (which is the hardest to trace).

There are different types of ransomware, too. Crypto looks for important files on the computer like PDFs or images that would be worth paying a fee to get back, and then encrypts them so they are locked for access by the owner. The other form, known as “locker ransomware,” takes over the entire system and hard drive so nothing can be accessed until the ransom is handed over.


Spyware involves using a rogue tactic to monitor your computer activity and sending information about you to companies, advertising agencies, and other data collectors. In more malicious uses, it even discovers financial information like credit card data and can make use of all of this information about you to steal your identity.

The best way to protect yourself and your business from these increasing threats is to maintain up-to-date security software, use hard to guess and unique passwords for every account and be vigilant about screening and policies company wide. By being aware of the threats and warning signs, you can get ahead of security risks before they cause a larger issue.


Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Service Areas: New York ShreddingLong Island Shredding; New Jersey ShreddingConnecticut Shredding and more