Difference between phishing and spoofing: All you need to know in 8 Easy Points


In the world of cybercrime, Phishing and Spoofing are often exchanged for one another. However, business owners and system administrators need to know the difference between Phishing and Spoofing. Though the usual tendency is to ignore emails that appear phished or spoofed because these are categorized as spam, it still makes sense to understand the difference.

Let us first understand both the Phishing and spoofing attacks’ definition before finding the Phishing and spoofing difference.

  1. What is Phishing?
  2. Types of Phishing
  3. Examples of Phishing
  4. What is Spoofing?
  5. Types of Spoofing
  6. Examples of spoofing
  7. What is the difference between Phishing and Spoofing?
  8. How to deal with Spoofing and Phishing

1. What is Phishing?

When Phishing is involved, the objective is to gather personal and confidential information of the user. The attacker usually sends an electronic communication like an email asking for sensitive data like credit card details, bank details, debit card PIN, Social Security Number, date of birth, passwords, or user ids. It is imperative to have in-depth knowledge about this latest threat so that personal and financial details and information can be safeguarded. 

What makes it dangerous is that the communication looks trustworthy because it appears to come from a legitimate source, a known or trusted person or organization. The email usually contains links or attachments, which, when clicked by the recipient, instantly leads to the download of malware. So, the intent of the email is malicious to extract your financial or personal information.

Most online attackers today use advanced technology like software systems to send such authentic-looking emails and messages.

2. Types of Phishing

  • Email Phishing – the attacker uses emails to attack online via email.
  • Phone Phishing – this is done through the phone.
  • Clone Phishing – is a whaling attack that is targeted at senior executives of a firm.
  • Spear Phishing – This is a sophisticated type of phishing attack where a harmful email is sent to a specific person.
  • Angler Phishing – this is done through social media. – either data posted on social media is stolen with malice intent, or users are tricked into divulging their personal information.
  • Smishing and Vishing – in this case, telephones are used for communication. Smishing involves sending text messages, while vishing is about engaging in a telephone conversation.

3. Examples of Phishing


  • An email asking the user to verify personal data – the text could be that ‘we couldn’t verify your information – click on the link to verify the same’.
  • Click here is a common term that such emails will contain.
  • Emails or phone calls that appear to be from your bank asking for OTP or bank PIN. 
  • An email claiming that the payment done on Amazon has failed.
  • An email that lures the user saying tax refunds.

4. What is Spoofing?

There is a thin line of difference between Phishing and Spoofing. Spoofing is where the attacker first spoofs or steals the identity of a real-time user, and then contacts the user. The objective of communicating with the end-user is to get their personal and sensitive information from the user. So, basically, the attacker acts like someone who exists in the real world and is a legitimate user. This is an example of identity theft. 

This is very risky because attackers typically target big enterprises and large organizations; steal the information and then connect with the target group to hack their systems and steal their personal data. Here too, attackers use the latest software systems to get your email address and ids. 

5. Types of Spoofing

  • Email Spoofing includes stealing the ‘from address’ in the email so that the email appears genuine;
  • Website spoofing is when attackers take over an existing website and change the address or set up fake websites. 
  • IP Spoofing is related to stealing or hiding the IP address to conceal their identity.
  • Caller ID Spoofing involves a phone number. Such numbers look genuine, and the receiver receives the call, and he is asked to reveal his personal information.
  • DNS Server Spoofing is when cybercriminals direct the traffic to an IP address that contains malware.

6. Examples of Spoofing

  • One of the typical examples is when hackers hack a complete website by changing the IP address of the site 
  • A website that looks like a banking website asks you to log in, but when you do, you realize that your account has been stolen.

Now that we have understood the definition of both the terms, let us know what is the difference between Spoofing and Phishing?

7. What is the difference between Phishing and Spoofing?

1. Objective

The difference between Spoofing and Phishing based on the primary purpose of carrying out the scam is that in Phishing, the aim is at extracting sensitive personal data of the recipient; and in Spoofing, the goal is identity theft.

2. Nature of scam

When you compare Phishing vs Spoofing, you need to understand that Spoofing is not a fraud because the attacker is not accessing the email or phone number of the user. No information is being stolen in this case. However, where Phishing is concerned, it is a type of online scam or fraud because the attacker aims at stealing the data of the user.

3. Difference between Phishing and Spoofing – which one is the subset of the other?

Spoofing is a subset of Phishing because often attackers online steal the identity of a legitimate user before committing phishing fraud. However, vice versa is not valid. Phishing cannot be part of Spoofing.

4. Method of phishing spoofing

For Phishing, no malicious software is used and is done using social engineering techniques. However, in the case of Spoofing, malicious software needs to be installed on the target computer.

5. Types of spam phishing spoofing

There are two different types of activities – Phishing types are email phishing, phone phishing, clone phishing, spear phishing, vishing, Smishing, and Angler phishing. Spoofing types include email spoofing, website spoofing, IP spoofing, Caller ID Spoofing, and DNS Server Spoofing.

8. How to deal with Spoofing and Phishing

  • Beware of emails that look suspicious. Let your mouse hover on the email link to be sure.
  • If the sender’s email address looks unfamiliar, avoid it.
  • Check the email for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • In case of a suspicious phone call, check back with the caller or sender of the email. 
  • Do not click on just any link of attachment to open or download. Only do so when you trust the source.
  • Avoid clicking on emails that have ‘Click Now’ buttons.
  • Check the spelling of URLs, websites, and emails.
  • Never divulge personal data online or on the phone.
  • Install anti-virus, firewall, and anti-malware programs on your system.
  • Keep a check on your bank and credit card statements.
  • Always use sites that have an ‘https’ prefix before the URL. 
  • Look for the lock pad symbol to be sure that the site is authentic and secure.
  • If the attachment has .exe, .scr, zip, or .bat extensions, you should be aware. 

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