A spy operation would imply that a certain amount of deception (or at least extreme covertness) was used to secure information that is considered proprietary to an organization
No it doesn't. The KGB used to count the cars in the Pentagon car park, the NSA/DIA used to listen for encrypted military radio traffic to gauge readiness levels. Everyone knew they did this, and there was only the most cursory attempts to conceal it.
Intelligence gathering is mostly far more prosaic than people assume. The real covert stuff, like using submarines to attach listening devices to Soviet undersea cables, is only a tiny part of what is going on. Mostly it is gathering a whole bunch of "newspaper clippings" and attempting to create an overall impression of what the enemy is up to (and this is why it was easy to "spice up" the Iraq and WMD intel to support an invasion).
And yes this is incredibly dangerous (as Iraq found out) and almost lead to Nuclear War in the 1980's when the Soviets relied on it to figure out if the US was going to pull a first strike.