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Eric Yuan, Sam Malek.  2016.  Mining Software Component Interactions to Detect Security Threats at the Architectural Level. 13th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture (WICSA 2016).

Conventional security mechanisms at network, host, and source code levels are no longer sufficient in detecting and responding to increasingly dynamic and sophisticated cyber threats today. Detecting anomalous behavior at the architectural level can help better explain the intent of the threat and strengthen overall system security posture. To that end, we present a framework that mines software component interactions from system execution history and applies a detection algorithm to identify anomalous behavior. The framework uses unsupervised learning at runtime, can perform fast anomaly detection “on the fly”, and can quickly adapt to system load fluctuations and user behavior shifts. Our evaluation of the approach against a real Emergency Deployment System has demonstrated very promising results, showing the framework can effectively detect covert attacks, including insider threats, that may be easily missed by traditional intrusion detection methods. 

Eric Yuan, Naeem Esfahani, Sam Malek.  2014.  A Systematic Survey of Self-Protecting Software Systems. ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems (TAAS) - Special Section on Best Papers from SEAMS 2012 . 8(4)

Self-protecting software systems are a class of autonomic systems capable of detecting and mitigating security threats at runtime. They are growing in importance, as the stovepipe static methods of securing software systems have been shown to be inadequate for the challenges posed by modern software systems. Self-protection, like other self-* properties, allows the system to adapt to the changing environment through autonomic means without much human intervention, and can thereby be responsive, agile, and cost effective. While existing research has made significant progress towards autonomic and adaptive security, gaps and challenges remain. This article presents a significant extension of our preliminary study in this area. In particular, unlike our preliminary study, here we have followed a systematic literature review process, which has broadened the scope of our study and strengthened the validity of our conclusions. By proposing and applying a comprehensive taxonomy to classify and characterize the state-of-the-art research in this area, we have identified key patterns, trends and challenges in the existing approaches, which reveals a number of opportunities that will shape the focus of future research efforts.

Eric Yuan, Sam Malek, Bradley Schmerl, David Garlan, Jeffrey Gennari.  2013.  Architecture Based Self-Protecting Software Systems. QoSA '13 Proceedings of the 9th international ACM Sigsoft conference on Quality of software architectures.

Since conventional software security approaches are often manually developed and statically deployed, they are no longer sufficient against today's sophisticated and evolving cyber security threats. This has motivated the development of self-protecting software that is capable of detecting security threats and mitigating them through runtime adaptation techniques. In this paper, we argue for an architecture-based self- protection (ABSP) approach to address this challenge. In ABSP, detection and mitigation of security threats are informed by an architectural representation of the running system, maintained at runtime. With this approach, it is possible to reason about the impact of a potential security breach on the system, assess the overall security posture of the system, and achieve defense in depth. To illustrate the effectiveness of this approach, we present several architecture adaptation patterns that provide reusable detection and mitigation strategies against well-known web application security threats. Finally, we describe our ongoing work in realizing these patterns on top of Rainbow, an existing architecture-based adaptation framework.

Eric Yuan, Naeem Esfahani, Sam Malek.  2014.  Automated Mining of Software Component Interactions for Self-Adaptation. SEAMS 2014 Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems. :27-36.

A self-adaptive software system should be able to monitor and analyze its runtime behavior and make adaptation decisions accordingly to meet certain desirable objectives. Traditional software adaptation techniques and recent “models@runtime” approaches usually require an a priori model for a system’s dynamic behavior. Oftentimes the model is difficult to define and labor-intensive to maintain, and tends to get out of date due to adaptation and architecture decay. We propose an alternative approach that does not require defining the system’s behavior model beforehand, but instead involves mining software component interactions from system execution traces to build a probabilistic usage model, which is in turn used to analyze, plan, and execute adaptations. Our preliminary evaluation of the approach against an Emergency Deployment System shows that the associations mining model can be used to effectively address a variety of adaptation needs, including (1) safely applying dynamic changes to a running software system without creating inconsistencies, (2) identifying potentially malicious (abnormal) behavior for self-protection, and (3) our ongoing research on improving deployment of software components in a distributed setting for performance self-optimization.

Erik Zawadzki, Andre Platzer, Geoffrey Gordon.  2014.  A Generalization of SAT and #SAT for Robust Policy Evaluation.

Both SAT and #SAT can represent difficult problems in seemingly dissimilar areas such as planning, verification,  and probabilistic  inference. Here, we examine an expressive new language, #∃SAT, that generalizes both of these languages.   #∃SAT problems require counting the number of satisfiable formulas in a concisely-describable  set of existentially quantified, propositional formulas. We characterize the expressiveness and worst-case difficulty of #∃SAT by proving it is complete for the complexity  class #P NP [1], and re- lating this class to more familiar complexity  classes. We also experiment with three new

general-purpose #∃SAT solvers on a battery  of problem distributions  including  a simple logistics domain. Our experiments show that, despite the formidable worst-case complex-

ity of #P NP [1], many of the instances can be solved efficiently  by noticing and exploiting a particular type of frequent structure.

Erik Zawadzki, Geoffrey Gordon, Andre Platzer.  2013.  A projection algorithm for strictly monotone linear complementarity problems. Proceedings of NIPS OPT2013: Optimization for Machine Learning.

Complementary problems play a central role in equilibrium finding, physical sim- ulation, and optimization.  As a consequence, we are interested in understanding how to solve these problems quickly, and this often involves approximation.  In this paper we present a method for approximately solving strictly monotone linear complementarity problems with a Galerkin approximation.  We also give bounds for the approximate error, and prove novel bounds on perturbation error. These perturbation  bounds suggest that a Galerkin approximation  may be much less sen- sitive to noise than the original LCP.

Esther Wang, Jonathan Aldrich.  2016.  Capability Safe Reflection for the Wyvern Language. SPLASH 2016.

Reflection allows a program to examine and even modify itself, but its power can also lead to violations of encapsulation and even security vulnerabilities. The Wyvern language leverages static types for encapsulation and provides security through an object capability model. We present a design for reflection in Wyvern which respects capability safety and type-based encapsulation. This is accomplished through a mirror-based design, with the addition of a mechanism to constrain the visible type of a reflected object. In this way, we ensure that the programmer cannot use reflection to violate basic encapsulation and security guarantees.