Crypto Malware vs Ransomware – 6 Differences & How to Protect

What are the difference between crypto malware vs ransomware? Ransomware and crypto malware may be two terms that are often used interchangeably but there are significant differences between the two.

If you are unaware of it and want to know about them more then you are in the right place. This article will not only tell you about the differences between crypto malware and ransomware but will also let you know the best practices to follow to protect your system from such cyber attacks.

There are different types of malware which include Trojan horse, Cryptojacking, Virus, Rootkits, Spam bots, Worms, Adware, Spyware, and Ransomware.

Malware can infect your system when you visit suspicious websites, download unreliable apps and links, or it can also be manually installed by the threat actors.

Ransomware is extremely dangerous for a system. It encrypts the files in your system and demands a payment to decrypt them so that you can access them once again.

None of the two is good to have in a system especially if you want to use it for crypto mining and transaction. You may lose all your money at one go.

6 Differences Between Crypto Malware vs Ransomware

Differences Between Crypto Malware vs Ransomware

Malware is ideally a short for Malicious Software. This ideally is a broad umbrella and ransomware is just another subset of it.

This means that all types of ransomware are essentially malware but conversely, all types of malware are not always necessarily ransomware.

Well, this is not the only difference between the two. There are several others as mentioned hereunder. Check out Best Ways to Keep Crypto Safe.

1. Design

Ransomware, as said earlier, is a type of malware that is designed to automatically encrypt the files when infected and demands a ransom from the user or victim before allowing access.

This is a specific code that will lock the files as well as the users from their systems until the ransom demand is paid. However, within the sphere of crypto mining, the use of ransomware is becoming less common. This is due to criminal crypto mining which is used more. However, ransomware is here to stay.

Crypto malware, on the other hand, is specifically designed with a clear objective of making money in the form of cryptocurrencies and then using it as an exchange for goods and services.

Malware, as such, is a type of malicious code that is designed to perform different types of functions that include damaging and corrupting files and even stealing information from crypto accounts.

2. Effectiveness

When it comes to effectiveness, crypto malware is far more effective than ransomware, on the whole. Typically, a crypto malware can be effective and run in a system for an indefinite period and the victim may not even notice its existence.

This is quite beneficial for the attacker because they get their job done without the victim needing to do anything. Therefore, it is virtually invisible and works stealthily.

Ransomware, on the other hand, makes its presence felt by demanding a ransom from the victim. However, there is no guarantee that the victim will pay up and therefore ransomware is far less effective than crypto malware which guarantees something in return.

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Moreover, ransomware malware can impact the DDoS market as well. This botnet is used instead of botnet CPUs to spawn packets to blackmail the victim, who can either pay or not pay the ransom. The botnet can be repurposed to mine crypto which thereby guarantees a payoff to the attacker.

3. Delivery Method

Ransomware is delivered to the systems of the victims primarily through malicious attachments. These attachments are usually sent through phishing mails which the victims get allured to and open to see what is in it, not knowing that the ransomware is activated that way.

On the other hand, when it comes to malware, the delivery methods can be varied and many, such as sending malicious links and emails, promoting app installations and asking the users to click on it to download it into their systems, through suspicious websites, Trojans, network worms, and even through a USB drive.

4. Removal

It is extremely difficult to remove a ransomware once it infects a system. You will have no other alternative than to pay the ransom to the attacker to gain access to the encrypted files once again.

If you do not pay up within the specified time limit and the particular amount asked for, the attacker may either increase the ransom amount or disallow access to your files permanently.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to pay up, you will have to clean your system completely and restore the files from your known backup, if you have one that is.

However, it is important here to note that, just like in a traditional ransom situation, the attacker may do so even if you pay up the ransom amount as demanded.

However, when it comes to crypto malware, in most of the cases it is moderately easy to remove it from your system. Usually, using any powerful and good antivirus software will be enough to remove the malware infection.

5. Impact

When your system is infected with ransomware, the impact is often extremely dangerous and severe as compared with malware. Such attacks made through ransomware are considered to be a serious criminal activity due to the fact that it is aimed at the extraction of money and involves financial blackmail.

Moreover, these impacts are also long-lasting more often than not and will take complete control over your system. In fact, several businesses are known to have closed their operations simply due to unavoidable and irreparable ransomware attacks.

However, if you consider crypto malware, it will not destroy your business and compel you to shut it down. At the most, it will gain control over the resources and your data and you will not even notice it exists apart from experiencing a much slower performance by your system.

Ideally, just like any other malware, the crypto malware will typically take over the control of your system remotely and sometimes simply exist without causing much harm to the system.

6. Approach

There is a significant difference in the approach of crypto malware and ransomware. As for malware, it comes in the form of a worm or a virus usually. While the worms can attack more actively, a virus will piggyback on a document or something of its like such as email or spreadsheets.

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If the computer is connected to a network, then the malware will start working on one computer system and from there on it will subvert or attempt to subvert one or more computers within the specific network thereby infecting the entire system and their operation.

Ideally, since the computers in a network are connected with each other via the internet, it makes it much easier for the malware to corrupt the entire network fast.

Ransomware, on the other hand, will start its operation as soon as it can infect a system. It will encrypt the files or even the disk first and then notify the user that the system has been attacked. In the notification, a ransom will be demanded to allow the user to use the files again, as said earlier.

Therefore, the approach of ransomware is pretty different from malware. However, if it is a non-ransomware malware, it will not do more harm than changing the background or configuration of the system, deleting files and causing other simple annoyances.

If it is more malicious, it may not only corrupt files or reformat a disk but may also stay hidden and communicate with the control system in order to make a DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack.

Apart from that, it may also try to know the passwords, keystrokes to documents, and more, and then forward the same to the control system.

How to Protect from Crypto Malware and Ransomware?

Perhaps the most common way to protect your computer from viruses, malware, and ransomware working on your system and corrupting the files is to have a good and powerful antivirus installed in it.

However, you will need to make sure that the anti-virus recognizes the malware. For this, you will need to have the up to date signatures for the anti-virus software.

You will also need to make sure that these signatures are updated on a regular basis so that it can effectively recognize and stop the malware from functioning and corrupting your files.

Ideally, when you update the anti-virus signatures, you automatically update your system, the apps, and the operating system. All these will ensure that the ransomware or crypto malware cannot infect the files stored in your system.

Computers that are used for crypto mining are most vulnerable to such specific types of cyber attacks, apart from the others.

This is because any form of criminal crypto mining will involve a malicious payload. It is only a behavioral intelligence solution that will be able to make out and block this payload.

For the best results and protection against malware that may have got into your system through phishing, social engineering or through an unprotected gateway is to use a counter invasion platform based on Artificial Intelligence.

This platform will be able to identify the anomalous signals of crypto coins being mined and initiate a proper incident response.

It is also good to use antivirus protection at all levels including servers and end-user computers along with a proper firewall.

This will be much more effective because the entire setup of the network across all layers will be secured instead of just one particular endpoint.

When you choose an antivirus, make sure that you choose the best one, irrespective of its cost. Your data is more valuable and therefore do not compromise on the cost for quality and efficacy.

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Research thoroughly and also get inputs from the security experts, colleagues, and even your peers.

Another efficient and prudent way to protect your data from ransomware and crypto malware is by creating a safer and proper system backup. This will enable you to restore the data without needing to pay the ransom.

If you are into business, you should train your staff and let them know about the best practices to follow. The list includes never opening attachments from any unknown sources.

This will prevent the malicious payload from getting through the scanning process of the anti-virus.

Also, to be on the safer side, check from the sources whether or not they have sent an attachment, even if the source is known to you.

However, in the worst case scenario, you can contain the damage first and then try to recover your system and data. Here are the steps to follow.

First, disconnect the affected device from the internet as well as from the local network in order to prevent the infection from spreading to other devices connected to it.

Next, scan all devices in the network as well as the cloud storage to find out whether or not there are any additional threats or similar flaws existing in it.

After that, when you have identified the specific ransomware and its family, research online for the proper remedial measures for that specific ransomware.

Once you make sure that the infection is contained, you may then try to remove it, recover your system as well as the data stored in it.

The third part is extremely difficult and needs proper knowledge and expertise. If you lack those, it is best that you clean your entire device, reinstall the operating system and then go ahead with the recovery process of the affected data by using a clean backup.

The recovery process includes:

  • Formatting and reinstalling the device
  • Restoring data from a clean backup
  • Reevaluating the security of the system and any software installed to stop a recurrence and
  • Reporting to the local law enforcement authority about the incident.

And, do not forget about taking proper precautionary measures. You must enable “Show hidden Files, Folders and Drives” and also disable “Hide extension of known file types” so that you can identify the files that contain several file extensions.


You should prevent your system from ransomware or crypto malware which is similar to preventing breaches in security in general. Knowing the difference between the two will enable you to implement the right security measures.