Having seen a number of Phishing links on Facebook recently I decided to delve into it a little more. How Facebook allows these fake pages and profiles to continue spamming unassuming people and pages is bizarre. Having reported the spammers, Facebook often came back stating “It does not go against any specific Community Standards” … I kid you not folks. That said I was persistent and eventually took down approx 100 phishing pages at the time of writing this.
I was able to find these pages using simple but advanced searches within Facebook and then report them. What I cannot fathom is why Facebook does not take a more proactive approach to this…highlighting these pages with some fancy algorithm or just one moderator tasked with monitoring these pages and taking them down.
OK! Facebook doesn’t care but who does?
That question and research led to a blog by ExecuteMalware.com called “Finding Phishing Websites” who seemed determined to make life hard for these phishing spammers.
The ExecuteMalware article brought me to the attention of a program called SushiPhish created by Brandon Martinez. The purpose of this tool is making it easier to find newly registered domain from places like Whoxy are first put through a filter of “hot words”. These are things like paypal, apple, amazon, etc if the domain has ANY of these words it marks them. After running the program you are left with a handful of sketchy sounding domains which is somewhat easier than manually going through 100,000’s of domains.
Although Brandon’s Sushiphish tool is brilliant, you do need to have some sort of programming background and knowledge of GitHub to run it which rules a lot of us out. However I did manage to build the same functionality of the anti phishing tool “Sushiphish” into Excel using visual basic scripting making it more accessible to a wider range of people. The download link can be obtained at the end of the page.
I can’t be 100% if the functionality is similar as sushiphish as I am one of those people not familiar with GitHub, but I am sure someone will let me know. I do plan to build upon it by introducing keyword scraping of the actual phishing websites to further cut down on manually reviewing the filtered URLs.
Note: It is a macro enabled spreadsheet so you will need to Enable Macros & you may get a WinhttpRequestError when you first run it. These are covered on the Help tab of the spreadsheet
Additionally Excel will freeze when verifying the URLs as its connecting to the internet to validate the websites
Daily Domains can be downloaded free from here to get you started.
Paste them into the spreadsheet
Convert them into hyperlinks
Verify the URLs
Then review the URLs that “Pass”, you can ignore any URLs that fail… or try verify them later in the day.
The functions within the Excel spreadsheet are quite safe. The Verify URLs function uses an object the check the status of the URL. It doesn’t actually open the website The status it tests for is crawler status Code ‘200‘.
You can click the links to the website if you need to, and if its a phishing page (which may actually look like Facebook, Apple or your Bank login etc…) but I wouldn’t advise you to enter your login details as that what the fraudsters want to obtain.
If you do visit a website which prompts you to download something DON’T. Use the judgement you use on a day-to-day basis while browsing the internet.
Now you may wonder why a person or persons may go looking for Phishing sites. You could be just a geek trying to make the internet a safer place, a nerd who finds it addictive taking out the bad guys, or simply you want to win a prize on NetCraft. NetCraft run a competition in their Anti-Phishing community which you can win flash drive, mugs and even an iPad. Read more about at here.
Now if Facebook took on that idea it would be a safer place and I would imagine a lot of students & younger folk would get involved.
Hopefully this shows you what can be achieved with Excel. It can be quite powerful, but is seldom used to its full potential. Its very easy to create automated tasks and custom logic within macros. Macros provide an ideal way to save time on predictable, repetitive tasks as well as standardize document formats – many times without having to write a single line of code.
If you ask me to do something repetitive I would usually look to Excel. In previous employment I used Excel to automate tasks and on one occasion turned 168 day project into a 30 day project.
Ask the question what can Excel do for you…just make sure you ask the right person and that’s probably me!