Spyware vs Malware: Difference and Comparison

We are merged in the sea of technology, and this sea contains sharks in the form of spyware and Malware. We are under constant threat of losing our data.

For individuals and organisations, securing the resources and data is a huge deal because different malicious software can attack and harm you greatly.

Key Takeaways

  1. Spyware is malware that secretly monitors and collects user information, while malware encompasses all malicious software.
  2. Malware can include viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, adware, and spyware, while spyware specifically targets user data.
  3. Spyware aims to gather sensitive data for financial gain or identity theft, whereas malware can have various motivations, including data destruction or system disruption.

Spyware vs Malware

The difference between spyware and Malware is that spyware is a type of Malware, and under Malware, there are many other malicious types of software. Spyware is not as harmful as Malware and can destroy data and other important elements. Also, spyware can not copy itself, but Malware can do it.

Spyware vs Malware

In simple terms, spyware is a spy that will read and track the device it is installed in. It can read your browsing history as well as your location and call history.

It is a type of Malware that threatens data security.

Malware is an umbrella term, and several other malicious software comes under it, for example, viruses, Trojan Horses and many more. These types of software destroy the available data on the device.

Antivirus is required to get rid of the Malware.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSpywareMalware
DefinitionIt is a software program that is designed to gather information without the knowledge of users.It is a software program that is designed to harm computers or networks.
Types It is a type of malware.It consists of several malicious software.
FunctionIts purpose is to track the user’s activities and gather information related to him/her.Its purpose is to destroy the data and configuration of a network or computer.
HarmfulnessSpyware is less harmful.Malware is more harmful.
Self-replication Spyware is not capable of self-replicating. Malware is capable of self-replicating and can copy itself. 
Solution The software can be removed with an antispyware program.Several antivirus programs can remove malware.

What is Spyware?

Spyware defines its name. You can get the basic idea by the implication of its name.

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Spyware spies on you. If your device has spyware, then it will keep track of your activities and will have control over your information and that too without your awareness.

You will not know when spyware spies on you.

If it is installed into your device, then after installation, the hacker will get the power to have an eye on your online actions and activities. The hacker will collect all the information he/she gets about you, and you will remain oblivious regarding the matter.

This is because there is no simple way of getting aware if your device has been affected by spyware.

There are instances that show business organizations installing spyware on the devices to keep track of their employees’ browsing activities. You must be aware of the term cookies.

It is a marketing strategy to monitor the most visited websites and pages to channelise their advertising. This way, the advertising will reach the targeted audience only, and the advertisement will have a chance to leave an impression.

Once installed, spyware can get the browsing history, call history and even location. Data security is constantly under threat because this spyware gets spread, and one can not understand if their device has one.

However, you can look for some signs, such as the data usage, and the battery will drain abnormally. The network speed will also get affected. 


What is Malware?

Malware includes several malicious software that can affect a device’s well-being. The functionality of the system gets disrupted, and viruses, adware and spyware get access to attack the device to make the situation worse.

Malware can duplicate itself. 

The most common form of Malware is a virus, and it can get into your device if you download virus implicated files or open email attachments that contain viruses. The device flies, folders and the overall data will be damaged.

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The virus also gets the power to change the configuration of the device. 

Like viruses, the worm is also another type of Malware. It is also capable of duplicating itself.

As part of its objective, it takes part in the operating system, and the user does not get aware of it. In most cases, the worm comes in with the help of storage devices such as USB drives.


Main Differences Between Spyware and Malware

  1. Spyware is a software program just like Malware, but spyware is made to gather information while the user remains ignorant about it. On the other hand, Malware is formulated to harm computers or networks.
  2. Spyware is nothing but a type of Malware, while under Malware, several other malicious software resides.
  3. The purpose of spyware is to track the user’s activities while he/she is unaware of them. It also gathers information related to the user. On the other hand, the purpose of Malware is to destroy. It destroys the data and configuration of a network or computer, whatever it attacks. 
  4. If we compare spyware with Malware, it will appear that spyware is less harmful than Malware.
  5. Spyware is not competent in self-replicating, but Malware can do this. It is capable of making its copy.
  6. To detect and eliminate spyware, you can take the help of the anti-spyware program, whereas to detect and eliminate Malware, you need to take the help of several available antivirus programs.
Difference Between Spyware and Malware
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8566151/
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7054729/

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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