While phishing and spam are both unwelcome nuisances to the inbox, the biggest differences between Phishing & Spam emails is in the intent of the sender. Spam is a popular method of hawking products and services by sending unsolicited emails to bulk lists. Spam is also a tactic commonly used by phishers in generic, large-scale campaigns. Phishing, by definition, actively aims to steal login credentials or other sensitive data, and campaigns are often highly targeted and well-researched. Both phishing and spam are serious threats that can be mitigated by implementing a layered supplementary cloud email security solution.

Spam and phishing are two dangerous, persistent email-borne threats that have existed for decades, but are becoming increasingly prevalent and problematic for businesses. Both carry severe consequences including data theft, financial loss, reputation damage  and significant downtime - or even permanent business closure. Let’s examine how these malicious email scams work and how the two differ.

What is Phishing and How Do Phishing Scams Work?

Phishing is a scam in which a threat actor masquerades as a reputable individual or organization. In an email-borne phishing attack, a malicious actor sends fraudulent emails with the aim of tricking recipients into sharing sensitive data or infecting victims’ systems with malware. Phishing emails have traditionally relied on malicious URLs and attachments; however, attackers are increasingly employing stealthy fileless techniques in an effort to evade detection. The sender of Phishing emails want your information — your usernames, passwords, credit card details and more. Phishing emails are not sent in masses & are usually more personalized and may seem to have come from your known sources. It might look to be coming from your bank manager or an organization you’ve donated to before or client of your company. A phishing email could also be an attempt to hack a network or infect it with malware.

Modern phishing scams are often highly targeted and very difficult to identify. Threat actors are now favoring sophisticated spear phishing campaigns, which target specific individuals who have access to valuable data such as HR of finance employees. Attackers leverage advanced social engineering techniques to craft well-researched, detail-oriented messages that are highly convincing.

Phishing is the predominant modern cybersecurity threat that businesses face. Ninety-one percent of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email.

Read more on What is Phishing, How does Phising emails work & How to protect your company from Phishing emails?

What is Spam Email and Why is it a Threat?

The motive behind sending spam email is to flood the email users on internet with commercial advertising for products that might seem rather suspicious. They want you to buy their dubious wares, access their dubious sites, or just forward their message to others. Chances are you’ve experienced the aggravation and decreased productivity associated with spam email - but in addition to being extremely annoying, spam email also carries serious risks. Spam email, or unsolicited junk email sent in bulk, is a vector that is frequently used in dangerous phishing and malware attacks. 

Spam email is ubiquitous, accounting for 54% of global email traffic in 2020. Although, on average, spammers only receive one reply for every 12,500,000 emails sent, spam email remains highly profitable due to the astronomically large number of unsolicited emails sent per day and the fact that the expense of these emails is borne mainly by recipients.

Read more on What is Spam Email, Spammers methods & How to recognise Spam email