Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:51

Kaspersky developing system to block phishing emails in real time

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Kaspersky developing system to block phishing emails in real time Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Russian security vendor Kaspersky is testing out a system to use machine learning to detect phishing emails in real time, the company says in a statement, adding that in 2019 its existing anti-phishing system had picked up 467 million attempts to connect to phishing websites.

While manual dictionaries for detecting phishing mails appeared about a decade ago, heuristics came in later.

The latter is the act of searching for signs that indicate the nature of a message and how it could be malicious. For example a link could mean an unprotected protocol such as http or the presence of the recipient's email within the the link.

The first element for the technology scheme for the new method lives in a cloud service that runs an algorithm that detects ratware or software that automatically generates and sends mass messages.

The second element, a machine-learning algorithm that detects phishing content, works on the client's device and determines the presence or absence of phishing vocabulary in the body of a message.

Email works in the following way: one uses a mail user agent (like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail) to create a message and send it out on the Internet. The mail is configured to use specific servers which then use a mail transport agent (like Microsoft Exchange or Postfix) to direct the mail to its destination.

Spammers, Kaspersky said, often used their own personal mail user agents to send spam in order to avoid detection. They varied the headers (like subject and to address) to achieve variety which also made spotting them more difficult.

Given this, the company said the task they faced was to create a tool that could detect traces of ratware based on headers. The first classifier, based on a deep neural network, was trained on millions of spam headings, and it extracted non-trivial features to detect suspicious headers.

A second classifier was the kind of language often used in spam, with emotive language being typical.

Kaspersky said this technology was effective in blocking spam in real time. It was also able to detect new techniques using these two classifiers. A second benefit was that it was automatic.

"We continue to improve the technology and plan to add other classifiers that will analyse more message parameters," the company said. "In its current form, as part of the solutions for protecting mail servers and the Microsoft Office 365 application, the technology has already been used to help increase the detection rate of the most sophisticated phishing emails."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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