Spyware And Spy Software: Know the Difference

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Terms like spyware and spy software may seem similar to a layperson, but in actual, they are quite different from each other. If you are considering downloading or using either of the two products, it is imperative that you know how to differentiate them from each other. Let’s explore and understand this difference so that the confusion is cleared.


Spyware does not require you to pay anything. Your computer may be home to some spyware without you even knowing about its presence. Spy software, on the other hand, requires you to pay a certain amount of money. The amount may vary depending on the features of the software, vendor profile and license period. Free spy apps are available too, but they often carry a hidden price, often in form of compromised security.

Installation Process

The installation process of spyware and spy software is totally different. Spyware automatically gets installed along with any other program without letting the user know. It works secretly at the back-end. In other words, it does not require you to install it as it gets installed covertly on its own. Spy software has a proper installation process, requiring the user to manually give the command.


Spyware is also known as tracking software as it tracks the activities of target user. The purpose of spyware is to secretly gather private information of the target user. This information is then transmitted to a third-party, again without the knowledge of the target user, who then uses it for its own benefits. The information gathered may vary depending on the nature of spyware, but mostly spyware aims for browsing history, so that the advertisements can be targeted accordingly. In addition, it sometimes changes the internet setting and browser settings of the targeted computer. Sometimes, it even collects private information like email address, passwords, credit card numbers etc. which may then used for committing crimes like identity theft etc.

On the other hand, spy software does everything legally, including prior consent of the target user. Its manufacturers warn customers to use it for legal purposes only instead of spying on anyone secretly. It mostly serves three purposes. Firstly, it acts as a parental control, allowing parents to monitor the browsing history, chats, emails etc. of kids. Secondly, it’s helps employers to keep an eye on their employees, allowing them to make sure that the latter are not wasting their time online or engaging in malicious activities. Thirdly, it can be installed for personal use, i.e. to catch snoops red-handed.


Unfortunately, the users do not have any control on the spyware, as it works secretly. It slows down the performance of PC. The best way to avoid or get rid of it is by using an efficient antivirus. Users of spy software, on the other hand, have full control over it. They can enable/disable its features and change its settings, and even deactivate it any time they want.

How it Works

Spyware remains hidden in the background, covertly stealing data from the target computer and sending it to a third-party via internet. Spy software works differently. The person who purchases it has an access to it via an email address and password. The administrator just has to log in to the certain page in order to see the dashboard where all the information is being displayed, often in an organized manner.

Now that you have learned the difference between spyware and spy software, you will hopefully make a responsible choice pertaining to their use.

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