How Open-Source Phishing Tools Compare With Paid Professional Solutions

Learn how free open-source phishing tools stack up against their paid counterparts.

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Gareth Shelwell May 20, 2023 (Last Updated: November 28, 2023)

Cybercriminals have become adept at using phishing emails to bypass email filters and deceive employees, ultimately gaining access to sensitive information. To protect businesses and their employees from phishing attacks, cyber defenders commonly utilize phishing simulation tools.

On your journey to transforming your organization into a cyber fortress, you have a choice: Do you roll up your sleeves and build your defenses with open-source phishing tools, or do you invest in a paid, professional solution?

This article examines both options and compares open-source phishing tools to their paid professional counterparts. The aim is to unravel the strengths and limitations of each, offering insights for organizations to make informed decisions.

Jump To Comparison Between CanIPhish and GoPhish

Image detailing why cyber defenders utilize phishing simulation tools.

What You'll Learn In This Article.

  • What the benefits of open-source phishing tools are.
  • What the inherent limitations of open-source phishing tools are.
  • How open-source phishing tools stack up against paid solutions.
  • What the benefits of using a paid professional solution are.
  • How the 'free' price tag for open-source software can be a fallacy.
  • How CanIPhish disrupt the market with a self-service approach and transparent pricing.

What Are Open-Source Phishing Tools?

Open-source phishing tools, such as GoPhish, are designed and maintained by a community of developers. These tools are publicly available and offer a self-hosted platform for simulating phishing attacks.

Benefits of Open-Source Phishing Tools

  • They’re free! The most apparent advantage of open-source tools is their cost-free nature. For budget-conscious organizations, this is usually the driving factor behind the decision to utilize open-source software.
  • A viable alternative. Open-source developers maintain these projects with the goal of providing organizations with a free and transparent alternative.
  • Maintain complete control. Users enjoy full control over these tools. From viewing source code to choosing hosting solutions, open-source tools put the user in the driving seat.
  • It's a learning experience. Getting an open-source phishing simulator is often viewed as a good learning experience for penetration testers and red-teamers.

Limitations Of Open-Source Phishing Tools

  • It can be a false economy. Despite being free, these tools require a substantial time investment for setup and infrastructure deployment.
  • A significant commitment is needed. Open-source phishing tools typically don't come with any phishing content. It's on you as the consumer to develop and maintain your own material. Keeping content current is a continuous effort.
  • There is no guaranteed support. The nature of using open-source is that you're leveraging a community of developers providing their time for free. In many cases, they'll fix bugs, but there is no guarantee of new functionality or fix timelines.
  • Missing big-ticket functionality. When it comes to features, open-source phishing tools fall short compared to paid professional solutions. These tools usually lack some essential components such, as report phish add-ons, SSO, training modules, and integrations with Azure AD and Google Workspace that are typically included in paid solutions.

To help get a clearer picture, let's put them side-by-side and compare a professional paid tool with an open-source phishing tool.

Image detailing how to compare open-source and commercial phishing tools.

What Do Paid Phishing Tools Have To Offer?

While open-source phishing tools are a viable option, let's dive into why you might want to consider shelling out a few extra bucks for paid tools.

  • Professional support. Paid solutions usually offer dedicated support through various channels like phone, email, or chat, ensuring that users receive prompt and efficient assistance whenever required.
  • Managed infrastructure. Professional tools come with managed infrastructure. This not only reduces the burden on your IT staff but also ensures that the infrastructure is optimized, secure, and up-to-date with the latest security protocols.
  • Ready-to-use content and templates. Paid solutions include a library of pre-built phishing emails, website templates, and training modules. Content is constantly being refreshed and updated.
  • Feature-rich out of the box. Paid tools come loaded with high-tech functionality such as detailed reports, dark web monitoring, Single Sign-On, multi-language content, domain scanning tools, and configurable infrastructure. They also provide better integration with existing systems, like Azure AD and Google Workspace, enhancing the overall user experience and effectiveness.
  • Easy to use and quick to deploy. Let's face it: not all of us are tech wizards. One of the key advantages is that paid phishing simulation tools are designed with ease of use in mind, with intuitive interfaces and streamlined deployment processes. Campaigns can be stood up in minutes, allowing organizations to reap the benefits of security awareness training rapidly.
  • Designed to be scalable. When deploying phishing simulations in large organizations, consider the scalability of paid tools. With robust infrastructure designed to accommodate your growing needs, these tools efficiently manage an expanding user base and more extensive campaigns.

Image detailing what commercial phishing tools have to offer.

What's The Cost Of Ownership?

Open-source phishing tools offer an attractive initial price point - free!

However, they often require significant investment in terms of setup and customization. Unlike paid solutions that are typically ready right out of the box, open-source tools require technical expertize to set up and substantial time to tailor them to an organization's specific needs.

While the temptation of free tools is undeniable, particularly for decision-makers not well-versed in technical nuances, the hidden costs of open-source tools can take a toll on your IT team. This goes beyond the obvious expense of time; it also includes intangible costs, like the potential strain on your team's sanity!

Without dedicated support, your IT professionals shoulder the entire burden of maintaining the software, from regular updates to crafting content and solving any issues that arise. It's a classic case of 'no free lunch', where saving money upfront can lead to unforeseen challenges down the road.

When evaluating the long-term value, open-source phishing tools can fall short, particularly when it comes to scalability and features that keep your organization engaged in the journey. As an organization grows and security awareness becomes embedded in its DNA, the limitations of these free tools become more apparent. Should the organization choose to switch to a more robust, feature-rich paid solution, the initial cost savings are quickly eaten up.

Image detailing that the cost of ownership is more than just financial.

A Features Comparison Of Paid vs. Open Source Tools

Phishing Simulation Tools CanIPhish Proprietary GoPhish Open-Source
Perpetual Free Tier
SaaS Deployment
On-Premise Deployment
Open-Source Codebase Limited
Managed Mail Servers
Managed Phishing Websites
Configurable Infrastructure
Training Modules
Domain Scanning Tools
Campaign Scheduling Limited
Email Template Editor
Phishing Email Library
Phishing Website Library
Sender Domain Spoofing
Executive Reporting Limited
Multi-Language Functionality
Dark Web Monitoring
Support & Security
Azure AD & Google Workspace Integration
Office 365 & Google Workspace Report Phish Add-ons
Long-term Platform Support Limited
Ticket, Chat, Email and Phone Support
Comprehensive Knowledge Base Limited
Configurable Cloud Data Storage
Single Sign-On (SAML)
Configurable Multi-Factor Authentication
SOC 2 Compliant Phishing Simulations
*Comparison based on publicly accessible data. Sign-up Free

Why Choose CanIPhish

Choose CanIPhish, and you're choosing a market disruptor in the phishing simulation arena.

Our approach is distinctively innovative, having ditched the traditional sales team. Instead, we let our platform do the talking, offering a perpetual free tier that serves as an ideal testing ground alongside straightforward, public pricing for when you're ready to take the next step.

Our free tier isn’t just a teaser—it's so feature-rich that many smaller organizations never feel the need to upgrade!

Think professional-grade tools are out of reach? Time to reset your expectations. We're revolutionizing how cybersecurity training is accessed and experienced. With CanIPhish, you gain access to an elite platform without the hefty price tag typically associated with high-end software. Head to our pricing page and find out for yourself!

Image detailing why CanIPhish is a market disruptor when it comes to phishing simulations.