Hybrid phishing detection using joint visual and textual identity

Choon Lin Tan, Kang Leng Chiew, Kelvin S. C. Yong, Yakub Sebastian, Joel Chia Ming Than, Wei King Tiong

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    In recent years, phishing attacks have evolved considerably, causing existing adversarial features that were widely utilised for detecting phishing websites to become less discriminative. These developments have fuelled growing interests among security researchers towards an anti-phishing strategy known as the identity-based detection technique. Identity-based detection techniques have consistently achieved high true positive rates in a rapidly changing phishing landscape, owing to its capitalisation on fundamental brand identity relations that are inherent in most legitimate webpages. However, existing identity-based techniques often suffer higher false positive rates due to complexities and challenges in establishing the webpage’s brand identity. To close the existing performance gap, this paper proposes a new hybrid identity-based phishing detection technique that leverages webpage visual and textual identity. Extending earlier anti-phishing work based on the website logo as visual identity, our method incorporates novel image features that mimic human vision to enhance the logo detection accuracy. The proposed hybrid technique integrates the visual identity with a textual identity, namely, brand-specific keywords derived from the webpage content using textual analysis methods. We empirically demonstrated on multiple benchmark datasets that this joint visual-textual identity detection approach significantly improves phishing detection performance with an overall accuracy of 98.6%. Benchmarking results against an existing technique showed comparable true positive rates and a reduction of up to 3.4% in false positive rates, thus affirming our objective of reducing the misclassification of legitimate webpages without sacrificing the phishing detection performance. The proposed hybrid identity-based technique is proven to be a significant and practical contribution that will enrich the anti-phishing community with improved defence strategies against rapidly evolving phishing schemes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number119723
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalExpert Systems with Applications
    Early online date23 Feb 2023
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    The funding for this project is made possible through the research grant obtained from UNIMAS, Malaysia under the Dana Pelajar PhD [Grant No: F08/DPP/1649/2018 ]. This work is also supported by the Sarawak Foundation Tun Taib Scholarship Scheme, Malaysia .

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2023 Elsevier Ltd


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