Spyware Vs Adware: What Is The Difference?

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Spyware and adware are two dangerous computer and cell phone malware. They may seem similar but in reality, they are quite different from each other. In general, spyware snoops around and tries to steal your personal info while on the other hand, adware just bombards you with ads.

That’s just a quick summary of what is the difference between spyware and adware. I’ll explain them in more detail in this article, so make sure you read it completely.

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Key Takeaways
Adware primarily targets displaying ads and can be eliminated using antivirus software, and they are not that harmful. On the other hand, spyware is designed to secretly gather the personal data of the user, they are hidden so can’t be detected easily and removed. Also, spyware is way more harmful than Adware to a user’s privacy.

Spyware Vs Adware: What’s The Difference?

spyware vs adware

Following are the key differences between spyware and adware:

1. Purpose

  • Adware’s main objective is to monitor your interests and display relevant ads.
  • Spyware’s main objective is to monitor the activity of the system and collect personal information.

2. Detection and Removal

  • Adware can be detected and removed by antivirus programs.
  • Spyware may be detected and removed by anti-spyware programs. However, some advanced spyware are not easily detectable and that is my personal experience with them.

3. Profit Generation

  • Adware provides profit to the developer by generating online advertisements.
  • Spyware provides profit to a third party by collecting user data without the user’s awareness.

4. Distribution

  • Adware is often unknowingly bundled with free-to-use software and distributed through pop-up windows.
  • Spyware is unknowingly installed on the user’s device by the attacker.

5. Harmfulness

  • Adware is generally considered less harmful than spyware as its primary function is displaying ads. It does not steal user’s data.
  • Spyware is more harmful because it can compromise a user’s privacy and security by collecting sensitive information.

6. Examples of spyware and adware

  • Examples of adware include Fireball, Appearch, Gator, and DollarRevenue.
  • Examples of spyware include FlexiSPY, mSpy, and uMobix.

Overall, while both adware and spyware may look similar, they differ in their primary objectives, methods of distribution, and the level of harm they can cause to a user’s system and privacy.

How To Protect Yourself From Adware Or Spyware Attacks?

Although there are differences in how adware and spyware infect your devices or how they work, you can follow the same tips to protect your devices from them. Some tips that I would like to give you are:

  • You should begin by updating all software on your device, including your operating system and browsers.
  • Run a full system scan using reputable antivirus or anti-malware software to identify and remove adware or potential spyware.
  • You should also reset your browser settings, delete suspicious extensions, and uninstall unfamiliar programs or mobile apps from your device.
  • To get rid of adware you should clear your browser data and enable pop-up blockers.
  • If the problem persists then don’t shy away from taking professional assistance.

What Is The Difference Between Spyware And Adware? Final Verdict

Spyware and adware are both types of malicious software, but they have distinct purposes. Spyware’s main goal is to secretly collect your personal information, such as passwords and credit card details.

On the other hand, adware primarily floods your screen with unwanted advertisements. While adware can be annoying, spyware is more harmful as it compromises your data and online safety. It’s essential to have antivirus and anti-spyware tools to protect against these threats and keep your device safe.


What Is The Difference Between Adware and Spyware?

While adware displays unwanted ads, spyware on the other hand stealthily collects user data without consent.

Can Adware Turn into Spyware?

No, but adware can lead to spyware infections if exploited by hackers.

How to Prevent Adware and Spyware?

To protect against both spyware and adware attack you can install antivirus, update software, and avoid suspicious downloads.

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