CSE498, Collaborative Design, Spring 2020
Computer Science and Engineering
Michigan State University

Headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, Auto-Owners Insurance is a Fortune 500 company that is represented by over 47,000 licensed insurance agents across 26 states. Auto-Owners provides automotive, home, life and business insurance to nearly 3 million policyholders.

Every day, associates at companies like Auto-Owners receive phishing emails that attempt to obtain sensitive personal and company information. Educational awareness programs, while common, do not protect a company against all phishing attempts and lead to extremely cautious employees. As a result, cyber security departments are flooded with emails forwarded to them by concerned associates.

Our Phish Phinder is an Outlook add-in which automates the phishing detection process for wary professionals. When a user sees a suspicious email and clicks the add-in button, our software scans the email and returns a categorization and confidence score. In an Outlook sidebar, the email is categorized as a confirmed phishing attempt, a suspected phishing attempt, spam or harmless.

The user is also given an educational tutorial detailing and explaining the suspicious parts of the email. This gives associates a method to better understand the characteristics of spam and phishing attempts.

The email data gathered by Phish Phinder is visible to executives and administrators in an analytics dashboard, and the emails themselves are available for review within a webpage. This allows companies to keep track of phishing targets in a streamlined manner.

The technologies involved in the Phish Phinder back end include Azure SQL, Python Flask API and Azure Web Services. The front end incorporates an Angular framework for the webpages and CSS, HTML and JavaScript for the Outlook add-in.