Visible to the public Biblio

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Rossow, C., Dietrich, C.J., Grier, C., Kreibich, C., Paxson, V., Pohlmann, N., Bos, H., van Steen, M..  2012.  Prudent Practices for Designing Malware Experiments: Status Quo and Outlook. Security and Privacy (SP), 2012 IEEE Symposium on. :65-79.

Malware researchers rely on the observation of malicious code in execution to collect datasets for a wide array of experiments, including generation of detection models, study of longitudinal behavior, and validation of prior research. For such research to reflect prudent science, the work needs to address a number of concerns relating to the correct and representative use of the datasets, presentation of methodology in a fashion sufficiently transparent to enable reproducibility, and due consideration of the need not to harm others. In this paper we study the methodological rigor and prudence in 36 academic publications from 2006-2011 that rely on malware execution. 40% of these papers appeared in the 6 highest-ranked academic security conferences. We find frequent shortcomings, including problematic assumptions regarding the use of execution-driven datasets (25% of the papers), absence of description of security precautions taken during experiments (71% of the articles), and oftentimes insufficient description of the experimental setup. Deficiencies occur in top-tier venues and elsewhere alike, highlighting a need for the community to improve its handling of malware datasets. In the hope of aiding authors, reviewers, and readers, we frame guidelines regarding transparency, realism, correctness, and safety for collecting and using malware datasets.

Sommer, R., Paxson, V..  2010.  Outside the Closed World: On Using Machine Learning for Network Intrusion Detection. Security and Privacy (SP), 2010 IEEE Symposium on. :305-316.

In network intrusion detection research, one popular strategy for finding attacks is monitoring a network's activity for anomalies: deviations from profiles of normality previously learned from benign traffic, typically identified using tools borrowed from the machine learning community. However, despite extensive academic research one finds a striking gap in terms of actual deployments of such systems: compared with other intrusion detection approaches, machine learning is rarely employed in operational "real world" settings. We examine the differences between the network intrusion detection problem and other areas where machine learning regularly finds much more success. Our main claim is that the task of finding attacks is fundamentally different from these other applications, making it significantly harder for the intrusion detection community to employ machine learning effectively. We support this claim by identifying challenges particular to network intrusion detection, and provide a set of guidelines meant to strengthen future research on anomaly detection.