Can video files contain malware?

It's no secret that malicious actors are always looking for new ways to infect unsuspecting users' devices. One recent method that has been making the rounds on the internet is the use of video files as a means of delivering malware. So, can videos really contain malware? And if so, how can you protect yourself from these attacks? Read on to find out.


What is a video file?

Before we get into viruses and malware in video files, it's important to know what a video file basically is. A video file is a type of digital file that contains video data. Video files are typically stored on a computer or other electronic device, and they can be played back using a video player program or app. There are a variety of video file formats, each of which uses a different type of compression to encode the video data. Some of the most popular video file formats include AVI, MPEG, and WMV.


Can a video file be infected by a virus?

Any type of file can be infected by a virus, and video files are no exception. In fact, video files are often targeted by hackers because they are so widely shared. If the video file is in a format that can be executed, like an .exe file, then it is possible for the file to be infected with a virus. However, if the video file is in a format that cannot be executed, like an .avi file, then it is not possible for the video file to be infected with a virus. So, while video files can technically be infected with a virus, it is only possible if the video file is in an executable format.
When a video file is infected with a virus, it can spread quickly and infect other video files on your computer or on computers that you share the file with. Infected video files can cause all sorts of problems, including corrupting the video or causing the video to chop or freeze.


Even the MP4 files I downloaded?

In short, yes. That's right - just like any other file type, MP4 files can be infected with harmful code that can damage your computer or steal your personal information. MP4 files are very common, and most people don't think twice about opening one. So how can you protect yourself? The best way to avoid getting infected by a MP4 file is to be careful about the files you download. Only download MP4 files from trusted sources, and make sure to scan them with antivirus software before opening them.


Check videos for virusses

These days, video files can be found just about everywhere online. While video is a great way to share information and entertain others, it can also be a source of viruses. That's why it's important to check video files for viruses before you download or view them. There are a few different ways to do this. One option is to use an antivirus program that includes file scanning. Another option is to upload the video file to a virus scanning website. Once the scan is complete, you'll be able to see if the video is infected or not. If you do find a video that's infected with a virus, it's important not to view or download it. Doing so could infect your computer with the virus. Instead, delete the file and move on. There's no need to take unnecessary risks when it comes to viruses. Taking these precautions will help to protect your computer from infection and will help to keep your video files safe.

What are lossless and lossy compression?

It's likely that you've heard the terms "lossless" and "lossy" compression before, but what do they actually mean and which is right for you? Read on to find out!


What is lossless compression?

Lossless compression is a type of compression that allows data to be reduced without any loss of quality. This is in contrast to lossy compression (see below), which sacrifices some data in order to achieve greater levels of compression. Lossless compression is often used for files that are not meant to be altered, such as images and audio files. One example of a lossless compression algorithm is the Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) algorithm, which is commonly used for image files. Although lossless compression typically results in smaller file sizes than lossy compression, it is often more computationally intensive, making it less practical for real-time applications.


What is lossy compression?

Lossy compression is a type of data compression in which some original data is lost during the encoding process. This is in contrast to lossless compression, which does not lose any data. Lossy compression is often used for images and audio files, where some loss of quality is acceptable in exchange for a smaller file size. The most common type of lossy compression is JPEG, which is used for photos and images. When choosing between lossless and lossy compression, it is important to weigh the trade-off between file size and quality.


The main difference between lossless annd lossy compression

As you can read above, lossless and lossy compression are two methods used to reduce the size of digital files. As the name suggests, lossless compression preserves all the data in a file, while lossy compression removes some of the data.  Lossy compression is often used for files like audio and video, where some minor degradation in quality is acceptable. Lossy compression can achieve much higher levels of compression than lossless, but it is not suitable for all types of files. In general, lossy compression is best for images and audio files, while lossless compression is better for text and other types of data.


Lossy or lossless compression for audio files?

One of the most important choices to make when compressing audio files is whether to use lossy or lossless compression. Both types of compression have their advantages and disadvantages. Lossy compression is much more efficient, resulting in smaller file sizes, but it can also cause a degradation in sound quality. Lossless compression preserves the full quality of the original audio, but the files are much larger and take longer to compress. Ultimately, the choice between lossy and lossless compression depends on the needs of the user. For example, if storage space is limited, lossy compression may be the best option, even if it means sacrificing some sound quality. On the other hand, if it is essential to retain the full fidelity of the original recording, lossless compression is the only way to go.


Lossy or lossless compression for image files?

When compressing an image file you also have the choice between lossy or lossless compression. With lossy compression, some of the data from the original file is removed, resulting in a smaller file size. However, this also means that the quality of the image is reduced. Lossless compression, on the other hand, does not remove any data from the original file. As a result, the file size is reduced, but the quality of the image is maintained. When deciding which type of compression to use, it is important to consider the desired outcome. If file size is more important than quality, then lossy compression may be the better option. However, if maintaining image quality is a priority, then lossless compression is the better choice.

Should I choose MP4 or MKV for my videos?

Without a doubt are MPEG-4 part 14 and Matroska Video (or as most people know it: MP4 and MKV) the most popular video formats around. When it comes to choosing the appropriate file format for your own video files, a few things have to be considered in order to make a choice between MP4 and MKV.

Containers, not formats

Let's start with bursting the myth around the assumption that both MP4 and MKV are video compression formats. They are simply not. They are what you call video containers. A video container, as the name implies, contains things a video needs in order to play properly on your tv or pc. They contain items like video codecs, audio codecs and even subtitles. Having them all in one file makes it easier to playback, but also enables the editor to choose methods to reduce file the file size. The editor might choose to reduce the video quality, but improve the audio quality.

MP4 and MKV being containers is important to remember because they might have a .mkv or .mp4 extension, they might have different video extensions for the video media inside the container.

Matroska Video

Matroska Video, or MKV, is developed by as an answer to replace the old AVI video format. The name is similar to that of the Russian 'dolls' called matryoshka. You know, the big doll that each container a smaller matryoshka doll. This is quite fitting, when you consider the fact the MKV is a container format. MKV video formats enable the user to capture endless amounts of video, audio and subtitle formats in one single file.

MKV and WebM files are related. WebM is a restricted version of MKV. The restriction is in the video codecs. WebM only allows the use of VP8 and VP9 codecs. In short, all WebM files are MKV, but not all MKV files are consistent with WebM

MPEG-4 part 14

MP4 is the probably the better known video format of the two. It is the standard output of many video camera's and smartphones. Although MP4 is, similar to MKV, a container format, it offers a bit more restrictions in terms of encapsulating formats. For instance, MP4 doesn't offer the possibility to embed ASS like MKV does.

Functionality comparison

So how to MP4 and MKV compare head to head? Check out the table below.

Video supported H.264, H.265, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4 ... H.264, H.265, Xvid, MPEG4, ...
Audio supported FLAC, ALAC, AC3, AAC, ... ALAC, MP3, AAC, ...
Subtitles ASS, SSA, ... -
Bits 8bit, 10bit 8bit, 10bit
Usability Not ideal for mobile devices. Ideal for mobile devices and pc

As has been said above, MKV has been developed to overthrow AVI. MP4, however, is the successor to the popular MPEG-1, MPEG-2 etc and has become the industry standard. Being the industry standard, MP4 has a much greater compatibility with videosoftware and video players. For instance, YouTube practically demands MP4 for uploads. This is the reason Iphones and Androids have chosen MP4 for their players. Third party software might still enable you to play MKV files on your smartphone though.

It's worth noting that MP4 is controlled and patented by MPEG, while MKV is an open-source project. This makes licenses for players, editors and video software a lot easier.

So, which is better?

Both containers are similar, and the choice for video format lies in personal preference and usability. There is no clear difference in quality. The difference are less subtle than that. MP4 has broad browser, device and software support and are often smaller in file size compared to MKV. MKV, being open-source software, is much better supported in free software. It also supports practically all codecs and has better subtitle support. If you prefer Google's latest codec VP9, you should go for MKV (or WebM). Do you want broad device support? Go for MP4.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does MP4 or MKV have better quality?

Both file formats support H.264 video codec. This means the quality of the video is similar. The difference are in the usability and functionality of the two container formats.

Is MKV open-source?

MKV is designed by Mastroska in order to replace the AVI format. Everything that has been used in creating the MKV format is patented, which means it can be used and distributed without licenses.

Does MP4 container support subtitles?

MP4 supports different subtitle formats, but not as many as MKV. MKV support ASS formats, whereas MP4 does not.