Phishing Unit Testing And Other Phishy Things

Seeing these results is pretty cool. I hope someone has/will come up with a way to have a test like this running periodically (at least weekly, if not daily or multiple times a day) which does an analysis on Phishing sites and how many are being blocked. I’d presume Google and other data services would have some interest in this. It could be as simple as an extension for browsers (yes IE too) which reads a feed and visits each site, and reports the results to a web service. Running in a confined environment (virtual machine, or dedicated box) free of tampering. I think the real advantage would be to see how effectiveness varies over time as phishers become more sophisticated.

Take for example spammers. First spam was pretty simple, now they are using animated GIF’s, sophisticated techniques to poison Bayesian analysis, botnet’s etc. I presume over time we’ll see the exact same thing with Phishing attacks. I doubt it’s going to get any better. On the positive side of things, this is still at it’s infancy, so we can start learning now, and be more aggressive than people were about the spam problem, which got way out of hand before everyone realized it was really something to worry about.

I’d ultimately like to see just percentages of different anti-phishing blacklists/software updated frequently, so we can keep a running tally. Perhaps it would be a good indicator of when phishing tactics require a software or methodology update. I think overall everyone would benefit from some industry collaboration rather than competition. The problem with phishing is to be effective your research must be good. To do good research you need to cast a wide net, and capture only one species of phish while not letting any dolphins get stuck in the net (sorry, couldn’t resist).

I’d be curious to know what others think of such testing, and efforts (from general users, as well as anti-phishing/spam vendors). Is the war against spam effective? Should the same techniques be used? Is it time for coalition building? Should we each go in alone? How do you monitor changes in techniques used by phishing?

I know Google is pretty serious about keeping up with the data in a very timely manner, and from what I can tell, most other vendors are as well. But I wonder how industry wide statistics could further benefit. Perhaps simply the competition of trying to have a higher average score. Perhaps simply the detection of changes in techniques (noted by everyones collective decline in detection rate).

I’d love to hear what others think of Phishing protection. It’s a rather interesting topic that many don’t give too much thought to, but it really is an important part of how browsers make the internet safer.

One thought on “Phishing Unit Testing And Other Phishy Things

  1. I don’t understand why the PhishTank list hasn’t already been incorporated into the firefox list ( or the google list for that matter )?

    While the test was interesting, all it shows is that there is good data out there which is not being picked-up and which really should be. For this reason I don’t see how such a test could be run periodically. Every new list that you test against would just be another list that you should have already merged with your own as soon as you became aware of it.

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