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What is the Difference Between Spam and Email Phishing Attacks?

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In today’s digital age, where communication relies heavily on emails, two prevalent online threats continue to persist: spam and phishing attacks. While both can be a source of frustration, confusion, and potential danger, they have distinct objectives and implications. This article explores the critical differences between these two types of cyber threats and how to protect yourself against their nefarious intentions.

Understanding Spam

What is Spam?

Spam, often referred to by email providers as “junk mail,” has been around since the early days of the Internet. Essentially, spam involves the unsolicited and indiscriminate sending of emails to many recipients. This practice is primarily employed for commercial purposes, aiming to promote products, services, or content. However, it’s important to note that spam emails can also carry hidden malicious elements, making email security crucial.

Types of Spam

Spam emails encompass a wide range of content. This content is mainly made up of chain forwards, coupon offers, adult content advertisements, donation solicitations, and unwanted newsletters. While these emails may be annoying and clutter your inbox, they are typically driven by commercial motives rather than directly harming recipients. If ignored they are largely harmless.

How is spam different now to what it was years ago?

Over in the US, the CAN-SPAM Act in 2013 was a significant step towards curbing the spam epidemic. This legislation mandated features like opt-out links, enabling recipients to unsubscribe from unwanted emails, and required senders to honour these opt-out requests promptly.

Identifying a Phishing attack

What is Phishing?

Phishing attacks are potentially more of a hazard to your company than email spam. The attacks represent a more deceptive cyber threat that goes beyond mere annoyance. In essence, phishing emails are carefully crafted fraudulent communications designed to deceive recipients into believing they come from a legitimate and trusted source. The ultimate goal is manipulating recipients into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials, passwords, and financial data, or installing malware onto their systems.

How Phishing Works

Phishing emails often appear convincing, mirroring the branding and language of reputable companies or individuals. They commonly trigger emotions like urgency or curiosity, enticing recipients to click on malicious links or download harmful attachments. Spear phishing, a variant of phishing, targets specific high-profile individuals with personalised and tailored messages.

How to Recognise Phishing Emails

Several obvious signs can help identify phishing emails, most of which you can see below. Neuways can help offer managed security and phishing awareness training as part of its service, so your employees can spot the signs listed below and keep your business safe.

• Misspelt words or grammatical errors

• Discrepancies between displayed links and actual URLs

• Requests for personal information or login credentials

• Presence of forms within emails

• Use of highly emotional language or urgency

Protecting Against Phishing

To shield yourself against phishing attacks, consider these measures:

• Familiarise yourself with typical signs of phishing scams

• Refrain from providing personal information via email

• Avoid opening messages from unknown senders

• Verify the authenticity of emails by visiting the sender’s official website

• Regularly update passwords and use unique combinations

• Utilise up-to-date antivirus solutions

Prevention and Defence

Email remains the primary source for cyber threats, making robust protection crucial. Becoming cyber safe is an example of a cyber security solution that can aid in countering both phishing and spam. Employees are able to block suspicious emails, and if businesses employ advanced malware detection, this would provide a robust defence against phishing and business email compromise.

In conclusion, while spam and phishing may intrude upon our digital lives, they diverge significantly in intent and potential harm. Spam, though annoying, primarily seeks to promote products or services.

On the other hand, phishing is a calculated attempt to deceive recipients into revealing sensitive data or compromising their systems. Recognising the signs of these threats and adopting preventive measures is essential to maintaining online security. Stay vigilant, verify the source, and prioritise your digital well-being.

Get in touch with Neuways

Get in touch with Neuways to speak to us about how we can help your employees protect themselves against cyber criminals, which in turn keeps your business safer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a leading IT and technology provider, we offer three core services, all of which have additional add-ons. We offer Managed IT Support, Business Central implementation and consultation, as well as Managed Cyber Security. Call us on 01283 753333 if you are interested in any of our services.

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Managed IT support is a comprehensive solution where an expert IT provider, like Neuways, handles your technology infrastructure. This includes proactive monitoring, maintenance, cyber security, and support.

Yes we do. Your business needs Cyber Security due to the increasing number of cyber threats that are affecting businesses in all industries. If your business has data and technology systems implemented, you will need Managed Cyber Security.

Yes we can. We have our own dedicated Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central teams who work to ensure that we can implement the right systems and solutions into your website that are absolute right for you. 

Exclaimer Pro is a dynamic email signature that helps clients to switch and change around email signatures so that clients are able to advertise different offers and brands to a variety of email recipients. Administrators can also manage user emails internally, meaning the user does not have to touch their own email signature.

We offer Managed Security Training to help employees spot email phishing attacks, spear phishing attacks and vishing attacks. We also help train clients on how to use the various pieces of software we provide to clients, like Exclaimer Pro, Business Central and Cybersafe software.

We are a Managed IT Support provider based in Derby, East Midlands. However, we cover so many areas including the whole of the UK, Europe, and America. We are always willing to travel and send our expert technicians to ensure you have the best experience. 

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