Detection of Malicious Websites Using Machine Learning Techniques

Adebayo Oshingbesan, Courage Ekoh, Chukwuemeka Okobi, Aime Munezero, Kagame Richard

In detecting malicious websites, a common approach is the use of blacklists which are not exhaustive in themselves and are unable to generalize to new malicious sites. Detecting newly encountered malicious websites automatically will help reduce the vulnerability to this form of attack. In this study, we explored the use of ten machine learning models to classify malicious websites based on lexical features and understand how they generalize across datasets. Specifically, we trained, validated, and tested these models on different sets of datasets and then carried out a cross-datasets analysis. From our analysis, we found that K-Nearest Neighbor is the only model that performs consistently high across datasets. Other models such as Random Forest, Decision Trees, Logistic Regression, and Support Vector Machines also consistently outperform a baseline model of predicting every link as malicious across all metrics and datasets. Also, we found no evidence that any subset of lexical features generalizes across models or datasets. This research should be relevant to cybersecurity professionals and academic researchers as it could form the basis for real-life detection systems or further research work.

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