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Phishing vs. Spear Phishing - What's The Difference?

Parker Byrd

Phishing and spear-phishing sound very similar, but there are multiple differences between these types of cyber attacks. These are both designed to acquire confidential information, however, the tactics used and the approach is very different. That’s why we are here to help you understand what is phishing and what is spear phishing, so you can have a better understanding of how to deal with them properly.

What is phishing?

Both of these attacks are sent via emails. In the case of phishing, these emails are sent to a very large number of people. Most of the time they are sent at random, and it’s expected that only a very small amount of people will reply to them. These emails will try to appear very official, and usually they require the recipient to either download something or click a link.

As you can imagine, that link is infected with malware, same with the downloadable file. Either that, or the link where the person is directed will ask for address, name, social security number and other personal information. All that info can be then sold on the black market, either for identity theft or fraud. That’s why phishing testing services are very important, because you want to be 100% sure any files or links used within your business are safe and ready to use.

What is spear phishing?

Unlike phishing where the emails are sent at random, the spear phishing emails are designed from the ground up for a single recipient. Normally the attackers will try to select a target within the organization and then send an email designed specifically for them. They either know the person very well and their vulnerability, or they are trying to attack a person without a lot of IT knowledge.

Once the email is sent, spear phishing works just like phishing. The person is expected to click on a link, and once they do, their personal information will be stolen. Malware enters their computer, and it can access all that info, not to mention it can spread to many other computers on the network. So a single attack like this can be extremely powerful and very challenging at the same time.

What can you do?

A proper spear phishing or phishing test will help you identify vulnerabilities and also ensure that no attacks will go through. At the same time, you also want to educate your team in regards to what links should be clicked, what’s dangerous and how to identify any possible attackers. You can also install security software on all your company’s computers. This will help immensely and ensure that you can prevent any possible problems.


Both spear phishing and phishing are very dangerous for any business or even regular computer user. They can lead to identity theft, fraud and other severe problems. Which is why you need to address this type of issue as quickly as possible. Upgrade your security system and make sure that everyone in the office understands what phishing is and how they can deal with it efficiently. These simple steps will help your business avoid severe data loss and identity theft problems!

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