The difference between spam and phishing is that, while both may be inbox plug-ins but only one (phishing) actively aims to steal login credentials and other sensitive data. Spam is a tactic to peddle goods and services by sending unsolicited emails to bulk lists. Although annoying, spamming is not as dangerous as phishing, which tries to trick users into revealing sensitive information.

What is spam?

Spam is called junk mail for a good reason. It exists almost as long as the internet itself as a tool to sell a product or service to a larger market of buyers than has ever expressed interest in that product or service. After obtaining the email addresses of a large number of individuals, spammers in bulk send out their offers in the hundreds or thousands at a time.

Common types of spam include the delivery of prayer chains, coupons, adult content, donation requests and unsolicited newsletters. They are usually commercial in nature and not manifestly malicious. The CAN-SPAM Act 2013 has helped reduce the problem of spam by mandating opt-out links and requiring senders to promptly respect such withdrawals.

What is phishing?

Phishing is explicitly designed by malicious actors to harm companies or individuals by obtaining sensitive information. It is often in the form of a seemingly legitimate message from a trusted sender. Phishing emails target banking credentials, passwords, cash advances or other valuable information.

Signs of phishing emails include :

  • Misspelled word.
  • There is a discrepancy between the language of the link and the URL it points to.
  • Requests for personal information.
  • Form in email.
  • Very emotional or mixed language.

You can also protect yourself from phishing attempts by :

  • Know the common signs of phishing scams.
  • Does not provide personal information via email. If you’re not sure if the email is valid, always consult the sender’s website.
  • Did not open messages from unknown senders.
  • Diversify passwords.
  • Use the latest antivirus solution.

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