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Phishing Vs Spam: These are two common types of email messages that you might receive. Both are designed to trick you into taking action you wouldn’t normally take, such as opening an attachment or clicking on a link.

Spam vs. phishing — While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have slightly different meanings.

But what exactly do “spam” and “phishing” mean? We’ll go into great detail concerning spam vs. phishing in this essay. We’ll also discuss how spam differs from phishing regarding emails, calls, and texts.

What Is Spam?

Spam is a term for unwanted or unsolicited email messages. Spam is generally defined as email messages sent in bulk to many people who don’t want them. This includes emails that are deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent; most Internet users regard spam as an undesirable factor in online communication.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of fraud that uses email messages to trick people into revealing their personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing combines the words “fishing” and “whaling,” which describes sending emails to specific individuals to obtain sensitive information.

Phishing vs Spam: Comparison Overview

Phishing

Spam

When users click on a phishing link, they are prompted to disclose their private information, such as bank details, social security numbers, etc. Mostly junk newsgroup postings about advertising a product,
Not limited to emails only, but also calls, text messages, and social media messages. Commercial advertising in the form of unsolicited emails
Begins with a lure that appears to be from legitimate sources. Unsolicited, unwanted emails flooding the inbox

Phishing vs Spam: Key Differences

Both phishing and spam are forms of social engineering — ways to trick people into giving up their personal information. While they may seem similar, they have distinct differences.

Techniques in Phishing vs Spam

The primary difference between phishing and spam is how they’re delivered to your inbox:

Phishing emails often appear to come from trustworthy sources like banks or retailers and often have realistic-looking logos and images in their attachments or embedded within the body of their messages. Spam messages are usually easily identified as junk because they contain misspellings and grammatical errors. They also include generic subject lines such as “check this out” or “this could make you money” or other red flags such as poor formatting or broken links in the body of their messages.

The objective of Phishing vs Spam

Phishing aims to get users to enter their login information by tricking them into believing that a fake site is legitimate. Spam seeks to get you to click on an email and go to a website that generates revenue for the spammer.

So what makes a phishing email different from other spam emails?

Here are some things you can look for in an email:

  • The sender is not who they say they are. If the sender claims to be an executive or someone else in your company, it’s likely a fake. The person who sent the email may not even work for your company.
  • The email contains an attachment or link that asks you to provide sensitive information (Social Security number, passwords).
  • The message asks you to change any passwords or update software that only IT support would normally handle.
  • There’s no clear purpose for why someone would send this type of message (it’s just vague).

Spam vs Phishing: Voice Messages and Phone Calls

Using email and phone calls to get personal information from you is very similar to spam and phishing. Both have some key differences, however.

With spam, you usually get an email from someone with your email address. These emails typically contain a link to a website that wants you to provide your personal information. These include credit card numbers, bank account information, and social security numbers. In 2022 alone, 8.16 Billion spam emails were sent in the US. 

Phishing is similar, but it uses phone calls instead of emails. Phishing scammers will call you pretending to be from your bank or credit card company, saying there is a problem with your account or they need you to confirm some information over the phone.

Spam vs Phishing: Which is More Dangerous?

It can be difficult to tell which one is more dangerous because they both have the potential to cause identity theft or financial loss. The best way to protect yourself against either is by not giving out any personal information over the phone or email if you don’t know who sent it!

How To Protect From Phishing?

Here’s how to protect yourself from phishing:

  • Antiphishing solutions monitor emails and websites for suspicious activity, such as links that lead to malicious sites. These programs can block these links, which helps prevent victims from falling prey to phishing scams. Use Antiphishing solutions by PowerDMARC and protect yourself.
  • Use DMARC: Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) is a service within the Domain Name System that allows organizations to identify and manage spoofed email domains.
  • When an organization receives a message from an unknown sender with an invalid From address, the message is relayed to the sender. So they can confirm that their address was used in error. The sender will then modify their message to prevent future delivery attempts by sending it again with a valid From address.
  • If a message fails DMARC verification, it is not routed through your mail server and, therefore, never reaches your users or customers. This helps ensure that legitimate messages are not blocked by spam filters built into webmail clients or other third-party services.
  • Don’t click on the suspicious link: This tip is simple but effective! Do not do it if you see an email or other message asking you to click on a link or download an attachment! Instead, delete the message or ignore it.

How To Protect From Spam?

The first step in protecting your email from spam is using the same SPF and DKIM keys on all your domains.

SPF: SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework and is a way to tell mail servers that send messages on behalf of an organization which emails are legitimate and which are not. The most common type of SPF record (i.e., one that applies to all domains) is called a “full” SPF record (or “all-domain” SPF record).

The full version of the standard says that if you have a domain with MX records, you should use your domain’s name as the address in email headers. This will prevent spoofing attacks by attackers pretending to be your company or sending out fraudulent notifications that appear as if they came from you.

DKIM: It stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail and enables users of an email service (such as Gmail) to sign their emails with their private key, making it easier for the recipient to identify whether an email was sent by them or someone else. This can be used together with SPF to help prevent spoofed emails from coming from your domain.

Never Respond to Any Spam: Don’t respond to spam messages or emails asking you to click on links or attachments. This can install malware or viruses on your computer that allow hackers to take control of your device.

Use Anti-spam Filters: Use anti-spam filters when possible. These help block most junk mail from reaching your inbox using algorithms based on keywords and phrases in the message body. They’re not perfect, but they can significantly reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.

Conclusion

The two most prevalent risks to information security on the internet are phishing and spam, representing the shadow side of all the technological advancements we now take for granted. Every business today operates online, and the globe has unparalleled power and dependence thanks to the internet. Therefore, cybersecurity is a requirement sine qua non.

The most common internet security risks today are spamming and phishing, both of which pose a risk to the integrity of the online community. Phishing is a method of commercial advertising that uses unsolicited emails to trick customers into providing sensitive information like credit card numbers, account passwords, and social security numbers. The best thing is to use anti-phishing solutions by PowerDMARC to protect yourself from severe phishing attacks.

What is a Spam email sent from your email address?

If your email address is forged by an attacker to send fake emails in bulk to your receivers, these emails may be marked as spam emails on the receiver’s side. This can be due to a typical case of email spoofing where an attacker sends an email from your own domain. 

Emails are often flagged and marked as spam when the receiving server fails to affirm the authority of the sender. When an attacker forges your email address, the Return-path address remains unmatched, and so does the DKIM signature. This leads to authentication failures, causing your emails to be marked as spam.

Why are my emails going into recipients’ spam folders: different test case scenarios

1. You are using wrongly configured email authentication records

If your DNS records for SPF, DKIM, or DMARC are improperly configured, even your legitimate emails can fail authentication and get marked as spam emails. Line breaks, unwanted spaces, or even a missing semicolon can lead to syntax errors which can invalidate your DNS record. 

Exercise caution during implementation and try using online tools to help you in the process instead of relying on guesswork.

2. Your DKIM selector is too long

While using 2048-bit DKIM keys is the recommended practice for enhanced security, not all third-parties support it. This can result in spam emails. You can use 1024-bit keys instead, or verify with your service provider before implementing the protocol.

3. You have not included third parties in your SPF record

If you are an online business using multiple third-party vendors for your email transactions, you need to confirm their authority over your domains by including them in your domain’s SPF record. 

For example, if you use Zoho Mail as a third-party vendor, you need to add the following include mechanism to your record for SPF: 

include:spf.zoho.eu

On the PowerDMARC SPF record generator tool, you can add your third-party vendor in the “Authorize domains or 3rd party services that send emails on behalf of this domain” section, while generating your record. To add multiple vendors, simply separate each domain with a single space in the following way:

 

If your record for SPF is exceeding the lookup limit after including all vendors, flatten it with our auto SPF flattening tool.

4. You’re using bots to send bulk emails to customers for business or marketing purposes

This isn’t a case where spam emails are being sent from your own domain. If you’re into commercial email marketing, you may be configuring botnets to send emails in bulk to potential customers. While this is an inexpensive way to gain exposure, more often than not these emails land in the spam box.

How can spam emails sent from your own domain affect your domain’s health?

If your emails are consistently getting marked as spam, it is a problem. Too many spam emails arising from a domain can drastically affect the reputation and credibility of the said domain. Email receivers can block or blacklist your domain to stop incoming emails from you, suspecting malicious intentions. This can in time lead to even legitimate emails getting rejected.

To fix this issue:

  • Make sure all your DNS records are valid. Check your records using this SPF record lookup tool. 
  • Update your records in case you add to your third parties 
  • Enhance your knowledge regarding email authentication protocols 
  • Shift to a DMARC reject policy to stop spoofing
  • Enable reporting for DMARC with a DMARC report analyzer. This will help you track your authentication results and detect problems in your email setup

Popular Internet Questions on Email Spam – ANSWERED

What is the impact of spam on Gmail?

If your sales messages get blocked in the email spam folder in Google mail it will not only be you trying to get more clients. The impacts of such a move extend beyond lower response rates. More of your emails might redirect to a Google email spam filter, causing more conversion. This means your emails will be automatically sent as spam and will never be redirected to a primary mailbox. Consequently, your email is no longer being read and your outreach efforts will be futile. Those steps reduce sales and decrease yield and therefore affect the bottom line.

Tell me the best way to get rid of spam emails

First, check your email’s spam settings. If you set up a filter for spam, but it hasn’t been configured correctly or hasn’t been updated since the last time you checked it, then that’s where the problem is. You should contact your internet service provider (ISP) and ask them to help you configure the filter so that it only allows emails from the addresses listed in your filters. This way, only the messages that go through this filter will show up in your inbox.

If this doesn’t work, then consider contacting the person who sent you the email and asking them to stop sending you their messages. It may be easier to just block them from sending emails altogether—if they’re running an actual business out of their home computer and they’re not being rude by trying to sell something on your behalf (like an expensive item), then we recommend that approach instead of just blocking them as email recipients.

What is the best way to determine if an email is spam?

The first thing you should look for is whether or not the email has come from a company or person you know. If it doesn’t, then you can be sure it’s not from your friend or colleague—and that means it’s probably spam.

Another thing to look at is the subject line. If it’s too long or uses too many words, that could also signal an automated message rather than something coming directly from a human being.

If both of these things check out, then there are other things you can check: make sure the email address isn’t fake (check out how many times it appears on different sites) and make sure there aren’t any spelling errors or unusual grammar mistakes in the body text itself.

An error-free DMARC setup can help you reduce email spam. Get your free trial today!