Difference between Spam and Phishing Mail

Spams and phishing mails are related to social engineering wherein a cyberattacker tries to manipulate a person to reveal the personal information such as password, account details, and many other security credentials. Therefore, we should be very careful while sharing our personal information through digital platforms. But, both spams and phishing mails are quite different from each other in the way they operate and manipulate their victims. The basic difference between the two is that a spam mail is a kind of advertisement tool but it is untargeted, while a phishing mail is a type of targeted social engineering attack.

Read through this article to find out more about spams and phishing mails and how they are different from each other.

What is a Spam Mail?

Spam or Junk mail is an unsolicited email. It may contain advertising/promotion details. Spams are generally sent from a compromised computer infected by a virus or worm. Such computers send emails in bulk.

Some spam emails may contain harmful links, malware or content which appears authentic but intended for misuse. For example, mails claiming you as the winner of a big lottery and asking for your bank account details to credit the amount.

What is a Phishing Mail?

Phishing is a type of cyber fraud. Cybercriminals continuously try to decept people by sending them phishing mails. They want to trick user to reveal sensitive information from users like login credentials, bank account details etc. These emails appear to be from authentic sources, say, from a bank, but are spurious accounts.

The primary intent of a phishing mail is to trick the recipient of mail into installing a malware in on his device for accessing his personal or financial information fraudulently.

Difference between Spam Mail and Phishing Mail

The following table highlights some of the important differences between Spam Mails and Phishing Mails −

Key Spam Mail Phishing Mail
Concept Spam mails are unsolicited mail and are sent in bulk. The primary purpose of such mails is to advertise a product or a service. Phishing mails are targeted to a few users and the purpose is to steal user information.
Primary goal Spam mails are primarily sent to flood the inbox of email users to sell some product to as many recipients as possible. Phishing mails are sent with the intention of obtaining personal information such as the username, password, account credentials, etc. of its recipient.
Type Spam is a kind of advertisement tool but it is untargeted. Phishing is a type of social engineering attack.
Contents Spam mails generally contain promotional/commercial contents. Phishing contains misguiding material and target to trick user to reveal sensitive information.
Equivalent Spam mail is equivalent to junk mail or unsolicited mail or promotion in some cases. Phishing is a crime and is equivalent to theft.


Spams are junk mails having content related to commercial advertisements. Spam mails are primarily intended to sell some product or service to make a lot of money. On the other hand, Phishing mails are fraudulent mails, mainly intended to steal the private and financial information like username, password, credit card details, bank account details, etc. Phishing is a crime and marked as a social engineering attack.