Difference Between Phishing and Spam

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Phishing and Spam

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Have you ever gotten a call or an email that sounded a little fishy? Perhaps the person or corporation who contacted you appeared to be phony or persistent in their attempts to obtain your personal information? It's possible that those were spam or phishing attempts. Spam and phishing are two closely related terms that are easily mixed up. Continue reading to learn the difference between the two and how to prevent becoming a victim of a phishing scam.

While both phishing and spam are undesired inbox annoyances, the most significant difference between the two is the sender's aim. Spam is an email marketing technique that involves sending unsolicited emails to large groups of people. Spam is also a typical method used by phishers in large-scale, generic operations. Phishing tactics are frequently highly targeted and well-researched, and they deliberately try to steal login passwords or other sensitive data. Phishing and spam are both severe problems that can be avoided by using a layered supplemental cloud email security solution. Spam and phishing are two serious, long-lasting email-borne dangers that have been around for decades but are becoming more common and harmful for businesses. Data theft, money loss, reputation harm, and significant downtime - or even a permanent business shutdown - are all severe repercussions of both. Let's look at how these dangerous email scams work and how they differ from one another.

Phishing vs. Spam

Phishing is a technique scammer, and cybercriminals use to swindle their victims by impersonating a legal entity or using other tactics. Phishing aims to trick users into sharing sensitive information and passwords, clicking on harmful sites, downloading malware, or opening virus-infected attachments.

Spam is any commercial message that is sent to you without your permission. Spam's goal is to reach as many individuals as possible in order to promote items and services. Spam messages are not inherently damaging. They're simply undesirable and take up space in your inbox. It's all about the statistics when it comes to spam. Even low success rates payout in the long term when you send enough spam messages to enough people.

Spam vs. Phishing: Spam is unsolicited commercial messages sent for marketing goals, whereas phishing is used to scam people and make them victims of cybercrime. As a result, when we talk about spam vs. phishing, the distinction is between the sender's objectives and the contents of the letters. Unfortunately, these three powerful mediums are commonly used for spam and phishing.

Difference Between Phishing and Spam in Tabuoar Form

Parameters of Comparison Spam Phishing
Purpose To promote and market products and services To defraud recipients
Nature Unwanted commercial emails that are usually harmless in nature. Messages appear to come from legitimate sources but are actually harmful.
Contain Advertisements for products or services, coupon codes, bargains, discounts, inquiry forms, or survey forms Malware-infested attachments, infected links, links that connect to spamming websites, and false messages that convince recipients to reveal their PII/financial data
Legislation The Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 in the United States Other countries are as follows: Anti-spam legislation The federal criminal law of the United States, as well as other state laws

What is Phishing?

Unlike spam, which is just undesirable, phishing is a malicious actor's attempt to harm an organization or individual by gaining sensitive information. It usually takes the shape of a message from a known sender that appears to be accurate. Phishing emails are designed to steal banking credentials, passwords, cash advances, and other valuable information. Identity theft is a common consequence.

Signs of a phishing email include:

  • Words that are misspelled
  • Discrepancies in the language of links and the URLs lead to Personal Information Requests.
  • Email-based forms
  • The language that is highly emotive or charged

You can also protect yourself against phishing attempts by:

  • Understanding the warning signs of phishing scams
  • Emailing personal information is not a good idea. Always check the sender's website if you're not sure if an email is genuine.
  • Messages from unknown senders are not being opened.
  • Passwords that are different
  • Using an up-to-date antivirus program

What are the Different Types of Phishing?


Phishing via email is by far the most popular kind of attack. This is because it's simple to carry out and replicate on a large scale with just a few mouse clicks.


Email is about half as popular as phone calls. To carry out a successful phone phishing attack, the person phoning must have enough personal information to seem convincing to the victim (you). Phone calls are also more challenging to track down the perpetrator, although they do take more time and effort.

People acting as IRS agents on the phone threatened to garnish salaries or put people in jail if they didn't settle their tax issues over the phone in the recent past.


Mail scams are less common because they are the most expensive to set up. These scams are most commonly coupled with a considerable cost that needs to be paid, which is why they are called healthcare scams.

How does it work?

Phishing is a sort of deception in which a threat actor impersonates a reliable individual or organization. In an email-borne phishing attempt, a bad actor sends phony emails to deceive recipients into providing sensitive information or infecting their computers with malware. Phishing emails have typically relied on malicious URLs and attachments; however, in order to avoid detection, attackers are increasingly using stealthy fileless approaches. The sender of phishing emails wants your personal information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. Phishing emails are not distributed in bulk; instead, they are more tailored and appear to come from trusted sources. For example, it could appear to be from your bank manager, a charity to which you've previously donated, or a client of your firm. A phishing email could be used to hack into a network or infect it with malware.

Modern phishing scams are typically quite specific and difficult to spot. As a result, threat actors are increasingly using sophisticated spear-phishing tactics to target particular people with access to sensitive information, such as HR or finance employees. Attackers use complex social engineering tactics to construct highly persuasive communications that are well-researched and detail-oriented.

What is Spam?

Spam is unsolicited junk email delivered to a large number of recipients. Spam is typically provided with a good intention to sell you a product or service.

Many spam emails do not include malware or other potentially hazardous attachments that could harm your computer. Instead, consider these emails to be a simple annoyance that many email providers will either block or shift to a Junk email box.

On the other hand, spam is a catch-all term for different sorts of mass trash communication, such as phishing and advertising.

Spam email is sent to inundate email users with commercial advertisements for products that appear to be suspect. They want you to buy their shady goods, visit their shady websites, or share their message with others. You've probably experienced the frustration and loss of productivity associated with spam email - but spam email isn't just bothersome; it also poses significant security dangers. Spam email, also known as unsolicited junk email sent in bulk, is a common vector in phishing and malware campaigns.

Spam email is pervasive, accounting for 54% of all email traffic by 2020. Despite the fact that spammers obtain only one response for every 12,500,000 emails sent, spam email remains immensely profitable due to the astronomically high number of unwanted emails sent per day and the fact that recipients bear the majority of the cost of these emails.

Spam Calls

Spam calls are when you receive an unsolicited phone call for marketing objectives, typically from a company you've never dealt with before. Unfortunately, it's difficult to tell the difference between marketing and spam calls.

A spam call, for example, is one that asks you to apply for a credit card from a company you've never dealt with before. However, if someone calls you to sell you a new card or insurance policy from a bank with which you already have an account, it's just a marketing call to sell you more items. Spam calls and telemarketing messages are prohibited in the United States under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Spam Text Messages

Spam text messages or spam SMS messages are sent when businesses send unwanted bulk text messages for commercial, non-malicious causes. Product information, details of special deals/discounts, offers, schemes, coupon codes, and other data may be included in these messages. They may also include links to the company's or service's website.

Some spam SMS texts are disguised as surveys in order to gather further information about potential clients. The goal of such text messages could be to promote a product or service, build a brand, or collect more information about the recipients (such as demographics, buying patterns, spending power, likes/preferences, and so on). The Telephone Consumer Protection Act also covers text spamming (TCPA).

Difference Between Phishing and Spam in Points

  • Definition of Phishing and Spam

Phishing is the most common type of cyber attack, in which victims are duped into disclosing their personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, account passwords, and more via emails, text messages, or phone calls from an attacker posing as a legitimate source or organization.

Spam is the electronic counterpart of unsolicited emails that are generally sent in bulk to a big group of people to transmit malware, conduct phishing attacks, or advertise. Spam is primarily trash newsgroup postings that masquerade as email advertisements for a product or service.

  • The objective of Phishing Vs. Spam

Spam is commercial advertising sent by email, which is still one of the most cost-effective methods of communication. Spamming is the practice of sending commercial emails with commercial content to as many people as possible in mass to collect money from those who respond to the emails.

Phishing, unlike spam, is not restricted to emails. Instead, phishing is a prevalent tactic used by cybercriminals to deceive individuals into clicking on malicious websites in order to steal sensitive information or take control of their systems.

  • Techniques in Phishing Vs. Spam

Phishing assaults are meticulously designed and carried out in a systematic manner. They are meticulously intended to entice victims to provide or reveal personal information such as login and passwords, allowing the attacker to take control of the victim's online world, including social networking sites, bank accounts, emails, and other services.

Spamming is the practice of concealing the actual content of emails in order to persuade victims to spend their hard-earned money on things that do not exist or are counterfeit, usually touting pharmaceuticals or security software.


The distinction between spam and phishing, or the difference between spam and phishing, can be perplexing. However, we may reasonably assume that you know that spam is a bothersome but harmless message, whereas phishing helps cybercrime. However, when a spammer violates CAN (or SPAM's your country's SPAM legislation) rules, the boundary between phishing and spam blurs. The email's content or sender's email address, for example, is fraudulent, or the email/text communications include malware (or links to malicious websites).

Spam can be so unpleasant that it makes you want to change your phone number or email address! On the other hand, Phishing can lead to you becoming a victim of cybercrime. Phishing and spam are the dark sides of today's technical breakthroughs, and they are the most widespread dangers to online information security. Every firm is now a cyber business, and cyberspace has given the globe unprecedented power and dependence. As a result, cybersecurity is an absolute must. Phishing and spamming are the most common internet security risks today, each of which poses a threat to the integrity of the cyber world. Phishing is a type of commercial advertising. People are tricked into revealing sensitive information such as credit card details, account passwords, and social security numbers by receiving unsolicited emails. As a result, continue to educate yourself and your staff on phishing scams and how to spot them.

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"Difference Between Phishing and Spam." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 13 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-phishing-and-spam-426>.

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