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How is Spyware different from Viruses & Worms?

Today, there are an incalculable number of “health” problems that a computer can be at risk for. Generally, these risks can be broken down into spyware, viruses, and worms. It is easy to confuse these different types of computer problems because they have many similarities.

Spyware, viruses, and worms all get onto a user’s computer with permission or by using deceptive means. Once on the computer, they cause harm to the computer and impair functions. Spyware, viruses, and worms are all designed to be difficult, if not impossible, to detect. They often are designed in a certain way that prohibits them from being removed in normal manners.  Recently, there have been many viruses and worms which have been, as spyware is, created for profit.

Compared to viruses and worms, spyware is a relatively new problem. Viruses have been around since the 1980s and worms almost as long. Spyware didn’t become a major issue until 2000.

The major difference between spyware and viruses and worms is that spyware doesn’t seek to replicate once on your computer. It also doesn’t seek to infect other computers. Both viruses and worms, on the other hand, actively replicate themselves and can spread to other computers through means such as email.

Another big difference between spyware, viruses, and worms is objective. Spyware is always used for some form of monetary gain such as through advertisements. Modern viruses and worms can also be used for monetary gain. However, viruses and worms are often created in an attempt to gain fame.

Some virus and worm creators have claimed their motivation was to show how far virus creation has advanced. Other creators desire to “outdo” the creators of anti-virus and anti-worm software. As in the case with the Bagel and Netsky viruses, the creators of the viruses wanted to outdo each other.

Additionally, viruses and worms are often created specifically to do damage to a computer through a type of web espionage. An example of this is the Conflicker worm which spread in 2008. It made its way into the defence systems of France and Britain as well as about 15 million computers around the world and creating severe damage to the computers’ health. Spyware, however, does not want to cause severe damage to the computer. That is because it relies on the computer’s health in order to send advertisements to users.

Is there a Spy-Vir-Orm Hybrid?

It is getting increasingly difficult to distinguish between spyware, viruses, and worms. As all three of these computer health issues become increasingly sophisticated, they have taken on properties of one another and often rely upon one another for functioning.

There are many instances when spyware is spread through a virus or Visa Versa. There are also many instances of spyware, worms or viruses creating openings for other types of harm to enter a user’s computer. Because of this crossover between the spyware, viruses, and worms, it is important that countermeasures are taken against all forms of computer infections.

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