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Maggi, Federico, Balduzzi, Marco, Flores, Ryan, Gu, Lion, Ciancaglini, Vincenzo.  2018.  Investigating Web Defacement Campaigns at Large. Proceedings of the 2018 on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :443–456.
Website defacement is the practice of altering the web pages of a website after its compromise. The altered pages, calleddeface pages, can negatively affect the reputation and business of the victim site. Previous research has focused primarily on detection, rather than exploring the defacement phenomenon in depth. While investigating several defacements, we observed that the artifacts left by the defacers allow an expert analyst to investigate the actors' modus operandi and social structure, and expand from the single deface page to a group of related defacements (i.e., acampaign ). However, manually performing such analysis on millions of incidents is tedious, and poses scalability challenges. From these observations, we propose an automated approach that efficiently builds intelligence information out of raw deface pages. Our approach streamlines the analysts job by automatically recognizing defacement campaigns, and assigning meaningful textual labels to them. Applied to a comprehensive dataset of 13 million defacement records, from Jan. 1998 to Sept. 2016, our approach allowed us to conduct the first large-scale measurement on web defacement campaigns. In addition, our approach is meant to be adopted operationally by analysts to identify live campaigns on the field. We go beyond confirming anecdotal evidence. We analyze the social structure of modern defacers, which includes lone individuals as well as actors that cooperate with each others, or with teams, which evolve over time and dominate the scene. We conclude by drawing a parallel between the time line of World-shaping events and defacement campaigns, representing the evolution of the interests and orientation of modern defacers.
Catakoglu, Onur, Balduzzi, Marco, Balzarotti, Davide.  2017.  Attacks Landscape in the Dark Side of the Web. Proceedings of the Symposium on Applied Computing. :1739–1746.

The Dark Web is known as the part of the Internet operated by decentralized and anonymous-preserving protocols like Tor. To date, the research community has focused on understanding the size and characteristics of the Dark Web and the services and goods that are offered in its underground markets. However, little is still known about the attacks landscape in the Dark Web. For the traditional Web, it is now well understood how websites are exploited, as well as the important role played by Google Dorks and automated attack bots to form some sort of "background attack noise" to which public websites are exposed. This paper tries to understand if these basic concepts and components have a parallel in the Dark Web. In particular, by deploying a high interaction honeypot in the Tor network for a period of seven months, we conducted a measurement study of the type of attacks and of the attackers behavior that affect this still relatively unknown corner of the Web.

Rahbarinia, Babak, Balduzzi, Marco, Perdisci, Roberto.  2016.  Real-Time Detection of Malware Downloads via Large-Scale URL-≫File-≫Machine Graph Mining. Proceedings of the 11th ACM on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :783–794.

In this paper we propose Mastino, a novel defense system to detect malware download events. A download event is a 3-tuple that identifies the action of downloading a file from a URL that was triggered by a client (machine). Mastino utilizes global situation awareness and continuously monitors various network- and system-level events of the clients' machines across the Internet and provides real time classification of both files and URLs to the clients upon submission of a new, unknown file or URL to the system. To enable detection of the download events, Mastino builds a large download graph that captures the subtle relationships among the entities of download events, i.e. files, URLs, and machines. We implemented a prototype version of Mastino and evaluated it in a large-scale real-world deployment. Our experimental evaluation shows that Mastino can accurately classify malware download events with an average of 95.5% true positive (TP), while incurring less than 0.5% false positives (FP). In addition, we show the Mastino can classify a new download event as either benign or malware in just a fraction of a second, and is therefore suitable as a real time defense system.