A Multi-Step Framework for Detecting Attack Scenarios

Date of Submission: 
February 21, 2006
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With growing dependence upon interconnected networks, defending these networks against intrusions is becoming increasingly important. In the case of attacks that are composed of multiple steps, detecting the entire attack scenario is of vital importance. In this paper, we propose an analysis framework that is able to detect these scenarios with little predefined information. The core of the system is the decomposition of the analysis into two steps: first detecting a few events in the attack with high confidence, and second, expanding from these events to determine the remainder of the events in the scenario. Our experiments show that we can accurately identify the majority of the steps contained within the attack scenario with relatively few false positives. Our framework can handle sophisticated attacks that are highly distributed, try to avoid standard pre-defined attack patterns, use cover traffic or "noisy" attacks to distract analysts and draw attention away from the true attack, and attempt to avoid detection by signature-based schemes through the use of novel exploits or mutation engines.