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Phinding Phish: Evaluating Anti-Phishing Tools

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2006 by Yue Zhang, Serge Egelman, Lorrie Cranor, Jason Hong
There are currently dozens of freely available tools to combat phishing and other web-based scams, many of which are web browser extensions that warn users when they are browsing a suspected phishing site. We developed an automated test bed for testing antiphishing tools. We used 200 verified phishing URLs from two sources and 516 legitimate URLs to test the effectiveness of 10 popular anti-phishing tools. Only one tool was able to consistently identify more than 90% of phishing URLs correctly; however, it also incorrectly identified 42% of legitimate URLs as phish. The performance of the other tools varied considerably depending on the source of the phishing URLs. Of these remaining tools, only one correctly identified over 60% of phishing URLs from both sources. Performance also changed significantly depending on the freshness of the phishing URLs tested. Thus we demonstrate that the source of phishing URLs and the freshness of the URLs tested can significantly impact the results of anti-phishing tool testing. We also demonstrate that many of the tools we tested were vulnerable to simple exploits. In this paper we describe our anti-phishing tool test bed, summarize our findings, and offer observations about the effectiveness of these tools as well as ways they might be improved.


Publisher Statement

Tech Report: CMU-CyLab-06-018