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Common techniques for accessing phishing attacks

Can't load the phishing site that you know is there? Here to do some incident response or some SOC tasks? If you’re attempting to respond to an incident or just investigate some phishing pages, you may find that they are inconsistently accessible. Fraudsters will make phishing sites less available to their non-targets to curb their detection. Here’s what to know about phishing attacks and how to access them.

What is a fake 404 page?

It’s pretty easy to make a fake 404 page to display.


<title>404 Not Found</title>

</head><body><h1>Not Found</h1>

                <p>Additionally, a 404 Not Found

error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.</p>


                  <address>Apache/2.2.31 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.2.31 OpenSSL/1.0.1e-fips mod_bwlimited/1.4 Server at localhost Port 80



This fake 404 page is part of a login for a webshell. The password’s hash and its plaintext mate are found in the file. So when you find a 404 page, do not assume the website is correctly offine.


a broken fake 404 page

1. Use a VPN or Proxy in a different country preferably one that matches the suspected target of the attack. There's always an ideal victim for the attacker. It could be that they want to phish customers of a particular store or brand, such as KFC. If an American proxy did work, try Japan who also has a lot of KFC. I'm sure hackers aren't looking to attack this chicken site though. 

2. Change your user agent

if(!empty($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])) {

    $userAgents = array("Googlebot", "Slurp", "MSNBot", "PycURL", "facebookexternalhit", "ia_archiver", "crawler", "Yandex", "Rambler", "Yahoo! Slurp", "YahooSeeker", "bingbot", "curl");

    if(preg_match('/' . implode('|', $userAgents) . '/i', $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])) {

        header('HTTP/1.0 404 Not Found');



There are two main reasons to change your user agent when accessing an attack. First is to not match any user agents that the site may deny. Since fraudsters only when their victims to find them, they remove other illogical ways of accessing the site.

The other reason is that some attacks are specifically crafted to be delivered by SMS and therefore opened with mobile user agents. It would not make sense to have desktop access, and likely those who would access them


3. Know which files to access

 function gass(){

        global $dirr , $index ;


        $me = str_replace(dirname(__FILE__).'/','',__FILE__);

        $files = scandir($dirr) ;

        $notallow = array(".htaccess","error_log","_vti_inf.html","_private","_vti_bin","_vti_cnf","_vti_log","_vti_pvt","_vti_txt","cgi-bin",".contactemail",".cpanel",".fantasticodata",".htpasswds",".lastlogin","access-logs","cpbackup-exclude-used-by-backup.conf",".cgi_auth",".disk_usage",".statspwd","..",".");

Here we have the list of files that should be restricted from access. While it looks like they have thought of everything, they have not... and this is where fuzzing comes in. If you're familiar with the phishing kit you'll probably be aware of the folders and file structure by now. If you're not, use a fuzzer or vulnerability scanner to find those extra files. I recommend this one even though it's freemium. Or there are plenty of scripts on github you can find that'll do the same thing. 

4. Check for redirections

Phishing attacks frequently utilize URL shorteners to hide the phishy URL. There's two reasons to do this; 1 if you're trying to stop blue teams from finding you, you'll require the webpage only to load from it's redirection URL and not share the URL the phishing page. 2 if the redirection URL get flagged or taken down, you can always just make new ones. 

If the attack requires you to have the redirection URL, I would recommend fuzzing the phishing page for insecure object references to load the attack. 

If you want to check where a website goes to without loading it yourself, or there's just a lot of redirects to keep track of, use Redirect DetectiveBrowserling is a browser emulator where you can switch user agents and see redirections.  






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