Are there any existing data sets of spear phishing emails available?

I've found a bunch of data sets of phishing emails, but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for mass phishing campaigns. Rather, I'm interested in spear phishing: targeted social engineering emails. I've checked phishing archives, like Phishtank, but haven't found any that have separated out the ones that are targeted. My goal is to study what real spear phishing emails, as observed in the wild, look like.

  • Good question but I do not think you could find such dataset as companies are not willing even to communicate about the damage hackers do to them or even recognize they have been targeted, so it would be even more difficult to hope that they would show how they have been attacked by publishing the original spear phishing email.
    – user45139
    Jul 25, 2015 at 7:15
  • 2
    If you are pursuing a research topic you can ask ask Symantec for it. Link symantec.com/about/profile/universityresearch/sharing.jsp . I'm sure you can have gain some sort of insight from it. Jul 25, 2015 at 8:10

2 Answers 2


I don't think you will find a data set with the original mails, since they are usually too sensitive. But you will find lots of indicators how these mails look like or what they contain in the various reports:

From looking at these reports I would say they are not that different from the normal phishing mails, which got already very sophisticated. The main difference is that spear-phishing is more targeted. That means it has less recipients, has more content which should be relevant to the recipients and might make more use of unknown exploits to evade detection.


The Targeted Email Attacks tumblr page lists a collection of examples of targeted, malicious emails. Many of them are not necessarily phishing, but some are.

  • That tumblr's last two posts were 2012/02/12 and 2011/11/16, so it unfortunately seems decently dead.
    – Adam Katz
    Jun 8, 2017 at 17:48

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