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Malware Versus Spyware – What’s the Difference?

If you’re wondering what the difference is between all these “ware’s” out there and how to differentiate between them, you’ve come to the right place. The internet, like many things, moves fast and the language and terminology might even be faster. Whether you’re experienced at computing or not, it can all be a little overwhelming to add a seemingly endless set of new terms to your vocabulary and know how to deal with them.

Here are some basics to help you understand and guide you on making more informed decisions regarding your computing experience online.

Key Differences Between Malware and Spyware

The term Malware is used to describe software designed to cause various problems to the victim’s computer system. Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, and other types of software represent Malware. Therefore, Malware is really a blanket term used to describe a variety of foreign software/script that is introduced to your computer.

Spyware is malware that is installed on the victim’s device in various ways, tracks the user’s actions, and can make changes to the computer system. 

Depending on the intent and purpose, spyware may have different functions. One type of spyware can conduct anonymous surveillance without interfering with the system, while another type is used to delete, block, modify or copy data. 

The range of spyware applications is wide and multifaceted. In contrast to spyware, adware often enters a user’s computer when a program is installed. 

In most cases, the terms of the adware software installation are included in the terms of another program installation. In some cases, the required software can only be installed in conjunction with an adware program. In other cases, it is not necessary to install adware and the user may refuse.  

Malicious spyware is disguised to the victim’s computer as other programs or is installed by unauthorized attackers. The function of such spyware is to obtain various types of information about the user’s actions or confidential data. 

These spyware programs often cause the system to slow down or hang up. Studies show that nearly 90% of home computers in the United States were once infected with spyware.

Spyware commonly slows down your computer by:

  • Taking up space in memory, making computers with very little secondary memory vulnerable to unstable operation. 
  • Taking up high-speed memory, slowing down Internet connections, overloading the system’s processor, and taking up bandwidth to transfer information. This reduces the lifetime of hardware components. 
  • Changing the Windows register, which causes errors and slows down the system. 

There are signs to help you determine if spyware is present on your computer. The presence of these issues is not an accurate indicator of spyware, but an indication that spyware may be present.  Pay attention to any of these signs that may indicate a computer infection:

  • Suddenly, pop-ups with ads appear on your computer. They may appear even when your browser is closed. 
  • Sharp deceleration in the speed of your device when you start up, work with programs, or in general.
  • The processor resource consumption has increased sharply and is under an additional load.
  • Your browser default page is changed and redirected to another website that you think is suspicious.
  • Your antivirus or security software has begun to malfunction.
  • There are new components in your browser that you have not installed before. They can be bookmarks, search bars, toolbars and more. 

Each of these factors individually may not mean something very serious, but having several of them is a sign of a problem.

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