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Torquato, Matheus, Maciel, Paulo, Vieira, Marco.  2022.  Software Rejuvenation Meets Moving Target Defense: Modeling of Time-Based Virtual Machine Migration Approach. 2022 IEEE 33rd International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE). :205–216.
The use of Virtual Machine (VM) migration as support for software rejuvenation was introduced more than a decade ago. Since then, several works have validated this approach from experimental and theoretical perspectives. Recently, some works shed light on the possibility of using the same technique as Moving Target Defense (MTD). However, to date, no work evaluated the availability and security levels while applying VM migration for both rejuvenation and MTD (multipurpose VM migration). In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive evaluation using Stochastic Petri Net (SPN) models to tackle this challenge. The evaluation covers the steady-state system availability, expected MTD protection, and related metrics of a system under time-based multipurpose VM migration. Results show that the availability and security improvement due to VM migration deployment surpasses 50% in the best scenarios. However, there is a trade-off between availability and security metrics, meaning that improving one implies compromising the other.
Torquato, Matheus, Maciel, Paulo, Vieira, Marco.  2020.  Security and Availability Modeling of VM Migration as Moving Target Defense. 2020 IEEE 25th Pacific Rim International Symposium on Dependable Computing (PRDC). :50—59.
Moving Target Defense (MTD) is a defensive mechanism based on dynamic system reconfiguration to prevent or thwart cyberattacks. In the last years, considerable progress has been made regarding MTD approaches for virtualized environments, and Virtual Machine (VM) migration is the core of most of these approaches. However, VM migration produces system downtime, meaning that each MTD reconfiguration affects system availability. Therefore, a method for a combined evaluation of availability and security is of utmost importance for VM migration-based MTD design. In this paper, we propose a Stochastic Reward Net (SRN) for the probability of attack success and availability evaluation of an MTD based on VM migration scheduling. We study the MTD system under different conditions regarding 1) VM migration scheduling, 2) VM migration failure probability, and 3) attack success rate. Our results highlight the tradeoff between availability and security when applying MTD based on VM migration. The approach and results may provide inputs for designing and evaluating MTD policies based on VM migration.
Pereira, José D'Abruzzo, Antunes, João Henggeler, Vieira, Marco.  2021.  On Building a Vulnerability Dataset with Static Information from the Source Code. 2021 10th Latin-American Symposium on Dependable Computing (LADC). :1–2.

Software vulnerabilities are weaknesses in software systems that can have serious consequences when exploited. Examples of side effects include unauthorized authentication, data breaches, and financial losses. Due to the nature of the software industry, companies are increasingly pressured to deploy software as quickly as possible, leading to a large number of undetected software vulnerabilities. Static code analysis, with the support of Static Analysis Tools (SATs), can generate security alerts that highlight potential vulnerabilities in an application's source code. Software Metrics (SMs) have also been used to predict software vulnerabilities, usually with the support of Machine Learning (ML) classification algorithms. Several datasets are available to support the development of improved software vulnerability detection techniques. However, they suffer from the same issues: they are either outdated or use a single type of information. In this paper, we present a methodology for collecting software vulnerabilities from known vulnerability databases and enhancing them with static information (namely SAT alerts and SMs). The proposed methodology aims to define a mechanism capable of more easily updating the collected data.

Medeiros, Nadia, Ivaki, Naghmeh, Costa, Pedro, Vieira, Marco.  2021.  An Empirical Study On Software Metrics and Machine Learning to Identify Untrustworthy Code. 2021 17th European Dependable Computing Conference (EDCC). :87—94.
The increasingly intensive use of software systems in diverse sectors, especially in business, government, healthcare, and critical infrastructures, makes it essential to deliver code that is secure. In this work, we present two sets of experiments aiming at helping developers to improve software security from the early development stages. The first experiment is focused on using software metrics to build prediction models to distinguish vulnerable from non-vulnerable code. The second experiment studies the hypothesis of developing a consensus-based decision-making approach on top of several machine learning-based prediction models, trained using software metrics data to categorize code units with respect to their security. Such categories suggest a priority (ranking) of software code units based on the potential existence of security vulnerabilities. Results show that software metrics do not constitute sufficient evidence of security issues and cannot effectively be used to build a prediction model to distinguish vulnerable from non-vulnerable code. However, with a consensus-based decision-making approach, it is possible to classify code units from a security perspective, which allows developers to decide (considering the criticality of the system under development and the available resources) which parts of the software should be the focal point for the detection and removal of security vulnerabilities.
Pereira, José D'Abruzzo, Campos, João R., Vieira, Marco.  2021.  Machine Learning to Combine Static Analysis Alerts with Software Metrics to Detect Security Vulnerabilities: An Empirical Study. 2021 17th European Dependable Computing Conference (EDCC). :1—8.

Software developers can use diverse techniques and tools to reduce the number of vulnerabilities, but the effectiveness of existing solutions in real projects is questionable. For example, Static Analysis Tools (SATs) report potential vulnerabilities by analyzing code patterns, and Software Metrics (SMs) can be used to predict vulnerabilities based on high-level characteristics of the code. In theory, both approaches can be applied from the early stages of the development process, but it is well known that they fail to detect critical vulnerabilities and raise a large number of false alarms. This paper studies the hypothesis of using Machine Learning (ML) to combine alerts from SATs with SMs to predict vulnerabilities in a large software project (under development for many years). In practice, we use four ML algorithms, alerts from two SATs, and a large number of SMs to predict whether a source code file is vulnerable or not (binary classification) and to predict the vulnerability category (multiclass classification). Results show that one can achieve either high precision or high recall, but not both at the same time. To understand the reason, we analyze and compare snippets of source code, demonstrating that vulnerable and non-vulnerable files share similar characteristics, making it hard to distinguish vulnerable from non-vulnerable code based on SAT alerts and SMs.

Torquato, Matheus, Vieira, Marco.  2021.  VM Migration Scheduling as Moving Target Defense against Memory DoS Attacks: An Empirical Study. 2021 IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC). :1—6.
Memory Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are easy-to-launch, hard to detect, and significantly impact their targets. In memory DoS, the attacker targets the memory of his Virtual Machine (VM) and, due to hardware isolation issues, the attack affects the co-resident VMs. Theoretically, we can deploy VM migration as Moving Target Defense (MTD) against memory DoS. However, the current literature lacks empirical evidence supporting this hypothesis. Moreover, there is a need to evaluate how the VM migration timing impacts the potential MTD protection. This practical experience report presents an experiment on VM migration-based MTD against memory DoS. We evaluate the impact of memory DoS attacks in the context of two applications running in co-hosted VMs: machine learning and OLTP. The results highlight that the memory DoS attacks lead to more than 70% reduction in the applications' performance. Nevertheless, timely VM migrations can significantly mitigate the attack effects in both considered applications.
Gonçalves, Charles F., Menasche, Daniel S., Avritzer, Alberto, Antunes, Nuno, Vieira, Marco.  2020.  A Model-Based Approach to Anomaly Detection Trading Detection Time and False Alarm Rate. 2020 Mediterranean Communication and Computer Networking Conference (MedComNet). :1—8.
The complexity and ubiquity of modern computing systems is a fertile ground for anomalies, including security and privacy breaches. In this paper, we propose a new methodology that addresses the practical challenges to implement anomaly detection approaches. Specifically, it is challenging to define normal behavior comprehensively and to acquire data on anomalies in diverse cloud environments. To tackle those challenges, we focus on anomaly detection approaches based on system performance signatures. In particular, performance signatures have the potential of detecting zero-day attacks, as those approaches are based on detecting performance deviations and do not require detailed knowledge of attack history. The proposed methodology leverages an analytical performance model and experimentation, and allows to control the rate of false positives in a principled manner. The methodology is evaluated using the TPCx-V workload, which was profiled during a set of executions using resource exhaustion anomalies that emulate the effects of anomalies affecting system performance. The proposed approach was able to successfully detect the anomalies, with a low number of false positives (precision 90%-98%).