SoK: a comprehensive reexamination of phishing research from the security perspective


Phishing and spear phishing are typical examples of masquerade attacks since trust is built up through impersonation for the attack to succeed. Given the prevalence of these attacks, considerable research has been conducted on these problems along multiple dimensions. We reexamine the existing research on phishing and spear phishing from the perspective of the unique needs of the security domain, which we call security challenges: real-time detection, active attacker, dataset quality and base-rate fallacy. We explain these challenges and then survey the existing phishing/spear phishing solutions in their light. This viewpoint consolidates the literature and illuminates several opportunities for improving existing solutions. We organize the existing literature based on detection techniques for different attack vectors (e.g., URLs, websites, emails) along with studies on user awareness. For detection techniques we examine properties of the dataset, feature extraction, detection algorithms used, and performance evaluation metrics. This work can help guide the development of more effective defenses for phishing, spear phishing and email masquerade attacks of the future, as well as provide a framework for a thorough evaluation and comparison.

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Avisha Das
Avisha Das
Research Fellow

My research interests include natural language understanding and generation with a focus on Biomedical NLP and AI Security.