Ransomware, malware, and phishing are three types of online threats that have been around for years. All three can be deployed via email, are detrimental to an organization, and can lead to the loss of financial or informational assets. They can be difficult to tell apart, but our ransomware vs malware vs phishing guide is here to highlight some key differences between them. 

Here’s a breakdown:

Ransomware Vs Malware Vs Phishing: Definitions

Ransomware Vs Malware

Ransomware is a type of malware that can encrypt your files and then make them inaccessible unless you pay the cybercriminals who sent it a ransom. The problem is that this isn’t just any old malware—it’s specifically designed to make you pay money by taking control of your computer and holding your files hostage until you pay up. Ransomware may also operate as a service commonly known as RaaS


Malware is another type of threat that can infect your computer and make it unusable. In most cases, malware doesn’t demand payment in exchange for removing itself from your device—instead, it will leave behind unwanted programs or files on your hard drive or laptop after it takes over your system.

Ransomware and Malware Vs Phishing

Phishing attacks involve sending emails with links or attachments that appear to come from trusted websites like Facebook or Gmail but lead to malicious sites controlled by cybercriminals who want to steal information about you or other people on the internet so they can commit identity fraud later down the road (like when trying to buy plane tickets).

Differences in Attack Prevention and Mitigation

Ransomware attack prevention 

Ransomware can be spread through email, social media, and other online services, or it can be downloaded from a website. It’s often used to extort money from victims, in what’s known as a “ransomware attack.”

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to use strong passwords and other security measures that protect your system and emails such as reliable anti-virus software and email authentication protocols like DMARC, respectively. 

Read our full guide on DMARC and ransomware.

Ransomware attack mitigation

If you’ve been affected by a ransomware attack, there are some things you can do right away:

  1. Make sure all the files on your PC are backed up and saved somewhere else (like an external hard drive)
  2. Remove any suspicious software from your computer and don’t install new software until the infection has been removed completely (or at least until there’s no risk)
  3. Don’t open any emails asking for money—don’t click on links in them either! 
  4. If possible, connect with friends or family members who have access to their computers so they can help clean up after you’re done 
  5. Consider having someone take over your account if possible so that only one person has access to it at once; this will make it easier for them to clean

Malware attack prevention

  1. The first step is to install antivirus software on your computer. Antivirus software can detect and remove viruses and other types of malicious software from your computer. This should be done as soon as possible after you have been infected with malware so that it can be removed before any damage has been done to your computer.
  2. Another way of preventing malware attacks is by keeping your operating system up to date. Most operating systems come with automatic updates that help keep them secure against new viruses and other types of malware by automatically downloading them when they become available online or through an update application on your computer. If there are no updates available for an operating system then it is best not to install anything until an update has been released for that particular version of the OS (Operating System).
  3. A third way of preventing malware attacks is by using strong passwords whenever possible instead of using simple ones like 12345.

Malware attack mitigation

If your computer is infected with malware, don’t wait! Run a full scan with an antivirus program before attempting any other steps. 

When a computer is infected with malware, it can spread quickly and cause more problems than just slowing down your computer. So make sure that you run a full scan before trying any other methods of recovering from a malware attack.

Phishing attack prevention

DMARC is one of the most effective ways to combat this type of attack because it can help prevent attackers from getting hold of your domain name, which would allow them to impersonate your site or service, and thus get access to your customer’s data. However, you need to be on an enforced DMARC policy of p=reject to prevent the attacks. 

Phishing attack mitigation

If your customers are receiving phishing emails that seem to be originating from your domain, you need a mechanism in place to track down these malicious IPs. DMARC reports are an excellent way to monitor your sending sources and track these IPs to blacklist them faster. 

We recommend configuring our DMARC report analyzer to view your reports in a human-readable (non-XML) format. 


In short, Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on your computer, holding them hostage until you pay up to have them unlocked. Malware is any kind of software that alters or deletes data without your explicit consent. Phishing is when scammers pretend to be someone you know—like your bank or employer—and ask you to provide sensitive information like usernames and passwords. 

However, all three can be administered to a user via fake emails from a spoofed address pretending to be you! Protect your domain’s emails today with a DMARC analyzer and never worry about impersonation threats again!

What is Malware? Malware or malicious software can damage your system (sometimes beyond repair) and access your sensitive data, or even encrypt it. Suffice to say this type of attack never ends well for the user. The overall number of new malware detections found worldwide as of March 2020 was 677.66 million programs, up from 661 million at the end of January 2020. By 2020, AV-TEST predicts that there will be more than 700 million new malware samples.

So, let’s have a look at what malware is and its significant types that spoil the working of your system.

What Is Malware?

Malware is a type of software that can cause damage to your computer system. Malicious software can take over your computer, access your private information, or damage your files and data.

Malware can be malicious, meaning that it has bad intentions and tries to harm you. Malicious software is usually designed to steal personal information, collect your passwords, or even destroy your computer.

Malware can also be unintentional, meaning that it was created by a developer or company who did not intend for the malware to contain any harmful features. Unintentional malware often consists of poorly written code that allows hackers to gain access to a user’s information or device.

What Can Malware Do?

Malware can cause problems like:

  • Locking up your computer.
  • Hiding your files which makes it hard for you to access your important files.
  • Changing the settings on your computer.
  • Downloading viruses, spyware, and other malware onto your PC.
  • Accessing your computer without your knowledge
  • Stealing data from your hard drive
  • Hijacking your browser or web-based applications
  • Taking over your computer to spy on others using it

Types of Malware

The most common types of malware have been discussed below:

  • Viruses are the most common type of malware, characterized by the ability to replicate and spread themselves to other systems. A virus can spread through email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing, and other means.
  • Trojans are malicious software that spread through a network. They imitate legitimate programs (such as browsers) and trick users into running them by displaying fake security warnings or pop-ups.
  • Spyware is software that secretly collects information about users’ activities and behaviors on their computers and sends this data back to its developer. Spyware can include adware, which displays ads on web pages when accessed, and scareware, which displays fake alerts similar to those found in antivirus software, trying to trick users into buying more security software.
  • Ransomware is malware that encrypts your files and then demands payment to unlock them. The threat spreads through email attachments and infected websites. Cybercriminals have increasingly used ransomware to extort money from unsuspecting victims. Ranomware can also operate as a managed service popularly termed Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).
  • Adware is advertising software that inserts advertisements into web pages viewed by you or any other person who visits your computer. These ads may be served without your consent or knowledge and are often collected without your knowledge. Adware might also track your browsing behavior online (such as site visits or keywords searched for), which can then be shared with third parties without your knowledge or consent.
  • Scareware is also known as fake antivirus or fake security software. It aims to trick you into thinking your computer has been infected with malware when it has not. Scareware typically pretends to be from a legitimate security organization such as AVG or Norton, even though these companies do not distribute such programs on the Internet nor provide support.

How Does Malware Spread?

Following a malicious attachment or link opening, malware can spread and infect devices and networks. Malicious software can sometimes be found on USB drives. Code in email attachments may direct your machine to download more malware from the internet.

How To Protect Yourself Against Malware?

There are ways to protect yourself from malware, but it takes a little effort.

  • Know the Basics of Email Security

Knowing the basics of email security and what to look for when picking an email server or provider is essential because attacks are getting more sophisticated and challenging to defend against.

The following three elements form the basis for email security:

  • The route an email takes to reach your inbox is called the envelope.
  • Information about the sender, destination, and different authentication details are contained in the header(s).
  • The message’s body is what you read and respond to (the contents of the email).

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication techniques, which heavily rely on DNS records, authenticate the sender and stop email spoofing which a potential vector for spreadin malware. Email service providers use these steps and different email security solutions to protect personal and business email accounts.

PowerDMARC, for example, uses a combination of technologies, including SPF and DKIM signatures to prevent malicious emails from being delivered to recipient mailboxes. It also blocks new messages from being sent until the sender has been authenticated by your mail server.

  • Only Use Trusted Antivirus and Malware Software

There is a lot of malware out there, but you can protect yourself from it by using only the software that the antivirus companies trust. The best way to do this is to use free antivirus software that has been created by people who have a background in computer science and can detect new viruses as they come out. These companies also have staff members who work full time on developing new methods of detecting and removing these types of viruses.

  • Configure Regular Scans and Monitor Settings

You should also automatically run scans every day or at alternate days and monitor your system for new threats. This will ensure that you don’t miss any infections that might be lurking on your computer system. It will also ensure that you don’t click on links or download files from suspicious websites without knowing what they contain or what they could do to your computer system if downloaded onto your device.

  • Keep a Tight Grip on Your Personal Information

Before you share any personal information online, keep it safe by using 2-Step Verification and strong passwords that can’t be guessed with software or brute force attacks. You should also use an antivirus app on your computer and mobile device to scan files for viruses before they’re opened or saved. Also, don’t open any suspicious links in emails or texts — they can contain malware that can infect your computer or device if clicked on.

  • Always Update Your Operating System

Make sure you have the latest version of your operating system installed. If a new update is available, it will prompt you with a notification. If you do not install it immediately, an attacker may be able to access your computer and install malware. You should also keep your antivirus software up-to-date with the most recent security patches available.

Malware Protection: Stop Malware spread through bad emails

So how does malware affect your computer’s working might be clear to you now. Cybercriminals use malware to infect networks and systems and obtain access to the data that is stored on the same. 

Depending on the type of malware, the programs start different actions. The spectrum includes everything from bad data deletion to converting user input sniffing. Malware threatens every user group, including personal and business users. No security solution can promise 100% security because malware is constantly evolving and creating new variants. However, there are recognized behavioral standards for minimizing the virtual attack surface including DMARC. 

To start preventing Malware from spreading through bad emails, deploy DMARC at your organization today with a DMARC trial. No credit card or account details needed!