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What Is the Difference between Antispyware and Antivirus Software?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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The difference between antispyware and antivirus software can depend a great deal on the particular software in question and how they are designed and developed. Antispyware programs are typically designed to specifically find spyware on a computer and remove it. This is quite similar to antivirus programs, which are developed to find and remove or isolate viruses on a computer. While both antispyware and antivirus software is created to remove malicious software, they may have different resources for finding these types of programs, including the database of different signatures that each type of program can access.

Depending on the type of software in question, the differences between antispyware and antivirus software can be slight or nonexistent. Antispyware programs are developed to find spyware on a computer and then remove it so it no longer poses a risk to the computer user. Spyware typically refers to programs that can end up on a computer, which then monitor activities for a variety of reasons. This can include keyloggers that track keystrokes made by a user and then send a record of those strokes to someone else.

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The use of antispyware and antivirus software is typically intended to find and remove these kinds of threats. Antispyware software, specifically, is able to look for spyware programs on a computer. This is often done by utilizing a database of spyware signatures, to which programs on a computer are compared during a scan. When a match is found, the spyware is flagged for removal by the program or the computer user.

An antivirus program typically looks for viruses on a computer, which are programs that are installed onto a computer and cause a wide range of problems. This can range from deleting information on a drive to causing a system to overheat and physically damage computer components. Antivirus programs typically use the same methods used by antispyware software, though they may allow difficult programs to be quarantined rather than just deleted.

The major difference between antispyware and antivirus software is the type of database each program can access. Antispyware programs usually have a record of different spyware signatures used for reference, while antivirus programs have signatures for viruses instead. Many comprehensive programs provide users with multiple tools for dealing with malicious software, often by combining both antispyware and antivirus software. These programs typically access a large database of signatures for many types of malware, and then provide a user with the appropriate tools for dealing with threats found.

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Discuss this Article

browncoat
Post 2

@croydon - To be honest, I *am* worried about people spying on me. I was reading an article today about how people can actually use spyware to hack into your computer and turn your webcam on, so they can watch you.

And of course, the article mentions the keystroke software that could record your passwords. I never use public computers to look at anything that requires a password for just that reason.

I know I'm being slightly paranoid, but at the same time, I don't want to lose my information. So, I have the best antispyware and antivirus programs I could find installed on my computer and I make sure they run every day.

So far, I don't think I've had any problems either. Prevention is always the best policy.

croydon
Post 1

Even if you aren't worried about people spying on you, it's a good idea to try and keep your antispyware software up to date.

Having too many spyware programs running on your computer can slow it down a lot. I didn't have an antispyware program installed for a while and just relied on my antivirus to get rid of anything that was causing problems. But, over a few months my laptop got slower and slower, which was really annoying. Then it started crashing as well.

I was lucky enough to have a friend look at it for me, and they showed me which program to install. It wiped out quite a few little spyware programs in the first run and now I use it all the time to keep my laptop clear.

It runs much faster now.

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