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Edward A. Cranford, Christian Lebiere, Cleotilde Gonzalez, Sarah Cooney, Phebe Vayanos, Milind Tambe.  2018.  Learning about Cyber Deception through Simulations: Predictions of Human Decision Making with Deceptive Signals in Stackelberg Security Games. CogSci.

To improve cyber defense, researchers have developed algorithms to allocate limited defense resources optimally. Through signaling theory, we have learned that it is possible to trick the human mind when using deceptive signals. The present work is an initial step towards developing a psychological theory of cyber deception. We use simulations to investigate how humans might make decisions under various conditions of deceptive signals in cyber-attack scenarios. We created an Instance-Based Learning (IBL) model of the attacker decisions using the ACT-R cognitive architecture. We ran simulations against the optimal deceptive signaling algorithm and against four alternative deceptive signal schemes. Our results show that the optimal deceptive algorithm is more effective at reducing the probability of attack and protecting assets compared to other signaling conditions, but it is not perfect. These results shed some light on the expected effectiveness of deceptive signals for defense. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Sunny Fugate, Kimberly Ferguson-Walter.  2019.  Artificial Intelligence and Game Theory Models for Defending Critical Networks with Cyber Deception. AI Magazine. 40(1):49-62.

Traditional cyber security techniques have led to an asymmetric disadvantage for defenders. The defender must detect all possible threats at all times from all attackers and defend all systems against all possible exploitation. In contrast, an attacker needs only to find a single path to the defender's critical information. In this article, we discuss how this asymmetry can be rebalanced using cyber deception to change the attacker's perception of the network environment, and lead attackers to false beliefs about which systems contain critical information or are critical to a defender's computing infrastructure. We introduce game theory concepts and models to represent and reason over the use of cyber deception by the defender and the effect it has on attackerperception. Finally, we discuss techniques for combining artificial intelligence algorithms with game theory models to estimate hidden states of the attacker using feedback through payoffs to learn how best to defend the system using cyber deception. It is our opinion that adaptive cyber deception is a necessary component of future information systems and networks. The techniques we present can simultaneously decrease the risks and impacts suffered by defenders and dramatically increase the costs and risks of detection for attackers. Such techniques are likely to play a pivotal role in defending national and international security concerns.

Cranford, Edward A, Gonzalez, Cleotilde, Aggarwal, Palvi, Lebiere, Christian.  2019.  Towards Personalized Deceptive Signaling for Cyber Defense Using Cognitive Models.

Recent research in cybersecurity has begun to develop active defense strategies using game-theoretic optimization of the allocation of limited defenses combined with deceptive signaling. While effective, the algorithms are optimized against perfectly rational adversaries. In a laboratory experiment, we pit humans against the defense algorithm in an online game designed to simulate an insider attack scenario. Humans attack far more often than predicted under perfect rationality. Optimizing against human bounded rationality is vitally important. We propose a cognitive model based on instancebased learning theory and built in ACT-R that accurately predicts human performance and biases in the game. We show that the algorithm does not defend well, largely due to its static nature and lack of adaptation to the particular individual’s actions. Thus, we propose an adaptive method of signaling that uses the cognitive model to trace an individual’s experience in real time, in order to optimize defenses. We discuss the results and implications of personalized defense.

Omkar Thakoor, Milind Tambe, Phebe Vayanos, Haifeng Xu, Christopher Kiekintveld.  2019.  General-Sum Cyber Deception Games under Partial Attacker Valuation Information. Cais USC.

The rapid increase in cybercrime, causing a reported annual economic loss of $600 billion [20], has prompted a critical need for effective cyber defense. Strategic criminals conduct network reconnaissance prior to executing attacks to avoid detection and establish situational awareness via scanning and fingerprinting tools. Cyber deception attempts to foil these reconnaissance efforts; by disguising network and system attributes, among several other techniques. Cyber Deception Games (CDG) is a game-theoretic model for optimizing strategic deception, and can apply to various deception methods. Recently introduced initial model for CDGs assumes zero-sum payoffs, implying directly conflicting attacker motives, and perfect defender knowledge on attacker preferences. These unrealistic assumptions are fundamental limitations of the initial zero-sum model, which we address by proposing a general-sum model that can also handle uncertainty in the defender’s knowledge.

Kimberly Ferguson-Walter, Temmie Shade, Andrew Rogers, Michael Trumbo, Kevin Nauer, Kristin Divis, Aaron Jones, Angela Combs, Robert Abbott.  2018.  The Tularosa Study: An Experimental Design and Implementation to Quantify the Effectiveness of Cyber Deception.. Proposed for presentation at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

The Tularosa study was designed to understand how defensive deception—including both cyber and psychological—affects cyber attackers. Over 130 red teamers participated in a network penetration test over two days in which we controlled both the presence of and explicit mention of deceptive defensive techniques. To our knowledge, this represents the largest study of its kind ever conducted on a professional red team population. The design was conducted with a battery of questionnaires (e.g., experience, personality, etc.) and cognitive tasks (e.g., fluid intelligence, working memory, etc.), allowing for the characterization of a "typical" red teamer, as well as physiological measures (e.g., galvanic skin response, heart rate, etc.) to be correlated with the cyber events. This paper focuses on the design, implementation, population characteristics, lessons learned, and planned analyses.

Prakruthi Karuna, Hemant Purohit, Rajesh Ganesan, Sushil Jajodia.  2018.  Generating Hard to Comprehend Fake Documents for Defensive Cyber Deception. IEEE Xplore Digital Library. 33(5):16-25.

Existing approaches to cyber defense have been inadequate at defending the targets from advanced persistent threats (APTs). APTs are stealthy and orchestrated attacks, which target both corporations and governments to exfiltrate important data. In this paper, we present a novel comprehensibility manipulation framework (CMF) to generate a haystack of hard to comprehend fake documents, which can be used for deceiving attackers and increasing the cost of data exfiltration by wasting their time and resources. CMF requires an original document as input and generates fake documents that are both believable and readable for the attacker, possess no important information, and are hard to comprehend. To evaluate CMF, we experimented with college aptitude tests and compared the performance of many readers on separate reading comprehension exercises with fake and original content. Our results showed a statistically significant difference in the correct responses to the same questions across the fake and original exercises, thus validating the effectiveness of CMF operations to mislead.

Tao Zhang, Quanyan Zhu.  2018.  Hypothesis Testing Game for Cyber Deception. Springer Link. 11199

Deception is a technique to mislead human or computer systems by manipulating beliefs and information. Successful deception is characterized by the information-asymmetric, dynamic, and strategic behaviors of the deceiver and the deceivee. This paper proposes a game-theoretic framework to capture these features of deception in which the deceiver sends the strategically manipulated information to the deceivee while the deceivee makes the best-effort decisions based on the information received and his belief. In particular, we consider the case when the deceivee adopts hypothesis testing to make binary decisions and the asymmetric information is modeled using a signaling game where the deceiver is a privately-informed player called sender and the deceivee is an uninformed player called receiver. We characterize perfect Bayesian Nash equilibrium (PBNE) solution of the game and study the deceivability of the game. Our results show that the hypothesis testing game admits pooling and partially-separating-pooling equilibria. In pooling equilibria, the deceivability depends on the true types, while in partially-separating-pooling equilibria, the deceivability depends on the cost of the deceiver. We introduce the receiver operating characteristic curve to visualize the equilibrium behavior of the deceiver and the performance of the decision making, thereby characterizing the deceivability of the hypothesis testing game.

Steven Templeton, Matt Bishop, Karl Levitt, Mark Heckman.  2019.  A Biological Framework for Characterizing Mimicry in Cyber-Deception. ProQuest. :508-517.

Deception, both offensive and defensive, is a fundamental tactic in warfare and a well-studied topic in biology. Living organisms use a variety deception tools, including mimicry, camouflage, and nocturnality. Evolutionary biologists have published a variety of formal models for deception in nature. Deception in these models is fundamentally based on misclassification of signals between the entities of the system, represented as a tripartite relation between two signal senders, the “model” and the “mimic”, and a signal receiver, called the “dupe”. Examples of relations between entities include attraction, repulsion and expected advantage gained or lost from the interaction. Using this representation, a multitude of deception systems can be described. Some deception systems in cybersecurity are well-known. Consider, for example, all of the many different varieties of “honey-things” used to ensnare attackers. The study of deception in cybersecurity is limited compared to the richness found in biology. While multiple ontologies of deception in cyberenvironments exist, these are primarily lists of terms without a greater organizing structure. This is both a lost opportunity and potentially quite dangerous: a lost opportunity because defenders may be missing useful defensive deception strategies; dangerous because defenders may be oblivious to ongoing attacks using previously unidentified types of offensive deception. In this paper, we extend deception models from biology to present a framework for identifying relations in the cyber-realm analogous to those found in nature. We show how modifications of these relations can create, enhance or on the contrary prevent deception. From these relations, we develop a framework of cyber-deception types, with examples, and a general model for cyber-deception. The signals used in cyber-systems, which are not directly tied to the “Natural” world, differ significantly from those utilized in biologic mimicry systems. However, similar concepts supporting identity exist and are discussed in brief.

Tanmoy Chakraborty, Sushil Jajodia, Jonathan Katz, Antonio Picariello, Giancarlo Sperli, V. S. Subrahmanian.  2019.  FORGE: A Fake Online Repository Generation Engine for Cyber Deception. IEEE.

Today, major corporations and government organizations must face the reality that they will be hacked by malicious actors. In this paper, we consider the case of defending enterprises that have been successfully hacked by imposing additional a posteriori costs on the attacker. Our idea is simple: for every real document d, we develop methods to automatically generate a set Fake(d) of fake documents that are very similar to d. The attacker who steals documents must wade through a large number of documents in detail in order to separate the real one from the fakes. Our FORGE system focuses on technical documents (e.g. engineering/design documents) and involves three major innovations. First, we represent the semantic content of documents via multi-layer graphs (MLGs). Second, we propose a novel concept of “meta-centrality” for multi-layer graphs. Our third innovation is to show that the problem of generating the set Fake(d) of fakes can be viewed as an optimization problem. We prove that this problem is NP-complete and then develop efficient heuristics to solve it in practice. We ran detailed experiments with a panel of 20 human subjects and show that FORGE generates highly believable fakes.

C. Wang, Z. Lu.  2018.  Cyber Deception: Overview and the Road Ahead. IEEE Security Privacy. 16:80-85.

Since the concept of deception for cybersecurity was introduced decades ago, several primitive systems, such as honeypots, have been attempted. More recently, research on adaptive cyber defense techniques has gained momentum. The new research interests in this area motivate us to provide a high-level overview of cyber deception. We analyze potential strategies of cyber deception and its unique aspects. We discuss the research challenges of creating effective cyber deception-based techniques and identify future research directions.