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Conference Paper
Sahabandu, D., Xiao, B., Clark, A., Lee, S., Lee, W., Poovendran, R..  2018.  DIFT Games: Dynamic Information Flow Tracking Games for Advanced Persistent Threats. 2018 IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC). :1136-1143.
Dynamic Information Flow Tracking (DIFT) has been proposed to detect stealthy and persistent cyber attacks that evade existing defenses such as firewalls and signature-based antivirus systems. A DIFT defense taints and tracks suspicious information flows across the network in order to identify possible attacks, at the cost of additional memory overhead for tracking non-adversarial information flows. In this paper, we present the first analytical model that describes the interaction between DIFT and adversarial information flows, including the probability that the adversary evades detection and the performance overhead of the defense. Our analytical model consists of a multi-stage game, in which each stage represents a system process through which the information flow passes. We characterize the optimal strategies for both the defense and adversary, and derive efficient algorithms for computing the strategies. Our results are evaluated on a realworld attack dataset obtained using the Refinable Attack Investigation (RAIN) framework, enabling us to draw conclusions on the optimal adversary and defense strategies, as well as the effect of valid information flows on the interaction between adversary and defense.
Sahabandu, D., Allen, J., Moothedath, S., Bushnell, L., Lee, W., Poovendran, R..  2020.  Quickest Detection of Advanced Persistent Threats: A Semi-Markov Game Approach. 2020 ACM/IEEE 11th International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems (ICCPS). :9—19.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are stealthy, sophisticated, long-term, multi-stage attacks that threaten the security of sensitive information. Dynamic Information Flow Tracking (DIFT) has been proposed as a promising mechanism to detect and prevent various cyber attacks in computer systems. DIFT tracks suspicious information flows in the system and generates security analysis when anomalous behavior is detected. The number of information flows in a system is typically large and the amount of resources (such as memory, processing power and storage) required for analyzing different flows at different system locations varies. Hence, efficient use of resources is essential to maintain an acceptable level of system performance when using DIFT. On the other hand, the quickest detection of APTs is crucial as APTs are persistent and the damage caused to the system is more when the attacker spends more time in the system. We address the problem of detecting APTs and model the trade-off between resource efficiency and quickest detection of APTs. We propose a game model that captures the interaction of APT and a DIFT-based defender as a two-player, multi-stage, zero-sum, Stackelberg semi-Markov game. Our game considers the performance parameters such as false-negatives generated by DIFT and the time required for executing various operations in the system. We propose a two-time scale Q-learning algorithm that converges to a Stackelberg equilibrium under infinite horizon, limiting average payoff criteria. We validate our model and algorithm on a real-word attack dataset obtained using Refinable Attack INvestigation (RAIN) framework.