The Difference Between Spam Emails and Phishing Emails

Far too often, people confuse spam emails and phishing emails. Although both spam emails and phishing emails are unwanted incoming communications, they are completely different. Read more to learn the main differences between the two:

Spam Emails

Spam email is unauthorized marketing or advertising communication sent to your inbox. Spam filters were built to capture these emails. Spam mail, also known as junk mail, is sent in bulk to a list of unauthorized email addresses. Think of what is currently in your Spam filter. You have people selling you things that you didn’t ask for, or emails that make zero sense. Recipients of spam most likely had their email addresses obtained by spambots. These are automated programs that crawl the internet looking for email addresses. From there, spammers create email distribution lists and send emails to millions of addresses. Some examples of spam emails are weight loss programs, discounted pharmaceuticals, or job opportunities.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are emails with malicious intent sent from hackers posing as a legitimate source. These emails demand action from the end user. Hackers mimic the emails, forms, and websites of legitimate people or companies in an effort to lure people into providing their private, personal information. For example, credit card numbers, social security information, account logins, and personal identifiers or pins. The victim usually doesn’t realize they’ve been compromised until long after the event. Oftentimes the victim does not realize they have fallen into a trap until their finances are affected.

The three types of phishing attacks are spear phishing, clone phishing, and whaling. Spear phishing is a targeted phishing attack directed at a specific individual. Clone phishing is where a legitimate, and previously delivered, email containing an attachment or link has had its content and recipient address(es) taken and used to create an almost identical or cloned email. Whaling is an attack targeted at a high profile individual.

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