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2018
Albarakati, A., Moussa, B., Debbabi, M., Youssef, A., Agba, B. L., Kassouf, M..  2018.  OpenStack-Based Evaluation Framework for Smart Grid Cyber Security. 2018 IEEE International Conference on Communications, Control, and Computing Technologies for Smart Grids (SmartGridComm). :1–6.

The rapid evolution of the power grid into a smart one calls for innovative and compelling means to experiment with the upcoming expansions, and analyze their behavioral response under normal circumstances and when targeted by attacks. Such analysis is fundamental to setting up solid foundations for the smart grid. Smart grid Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) co-simulation environments serve as a key approach to answer questions on the systems components, functionality, security concerns along with analysis of the system outcome and expected behavior. In this paper, we introduce a HIL co-simulation framework capable of simulating the smart grid actions and responses to attacks targeting its power and communication components. Our testbed is equipped with a real-time power grid simulator, and an associated OpenStack-based communication network. Through the utilized communication network, we can emulate a multitude of attacks targeting the power system, and evaluating the grid response to those attacks. Moreover, we present different illustrative cyber attacks use cases, and analyze the smart grid behavior in the presence of those attacks.

2014
Bou-Harb, E., Debbabi, M., Assi, C..  2014.  Cyber Scanning: A Comprehensive Survey. Communications Surveys Tutorials, IEEE. 16:1496-1519.

Cyber scanning refers to the task of probing enterprise networks or Internet wide services, searching for vulnerabilities or ways to infiltrate IT assets. This misdemeanor is often the primarily methodology that is adopted by attackers prior to launching a targeted cyber attack. Hence, it is of paramount importance to research and adopt methods for the detection and attribution of cyber scanning. Nevertheless, with the surge of complex offered services from one side and the proliferation of hackers' refined, advanced, and sophisticated techniques from the other side, the task of containing cyber scanning poses serious issues and challenges. Furthermore recently, there has been a flourishing of a cyber phenomenon dubbed as cyber scanning campaigns - scanning techniques that are highly distributed, possess composite stealth capabilities and high coordination - rendering almost all current detection techniques unfeasible. This paper presents a comprehensive survey of the entire cyber scanning topic. It categorizes cyber scanning by elaborating on its nature, strategies and approaches. It also provides the reader with a classification and an exhaustive review of its techniques. Moreover, it offers a taxonomy of the current literature by focusing on distributed cyber scanning detection methods. To tackle cyber scanning campaigns, this paper uniquely reports on the analysis of two recent cyber scanning incidents. Finally, several concluding remarks are discussed.
 

Fachkha, C., Bou-Harb, E., Debbabi, M..  2014.  Fingerprinting Internet DNS Amplification DDoS Activities. New Technologies, Mobility and Security (NTMS), 2014 6th International Conference on. :1-5.

This work proposes a novel approach to infer and characterize Internet-scale DNS amplification DDoS attacks by leveraging the darknet space. Complementary to the pioneer work on inferring Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) using darknet, this work shows that we can extract DDoS activities without relying on backscattered analysis. The aim of this work is to extract cyber security intelligence related to DNS Amplification DDoS activities such as detection period, attack duration, intensity, packet size, rate and geo- location in addition to various network-layer and flow-based insights. To achieve this task, the proposed approach exploits certain DDoS parameters to detect the attacks. We empirically evaluate the proposed approach using 720 GB of real darknet data collected from a /13 address space during a recent three months period. Our analysis reveals that the approach was successful in inferring significant DNS amplification DDoS activities including the recent prominent attack that targeted one of the largest anti-spam organizations. Moreover, the analysis disclosed the mechanism of such DNS amplification DDoS attacks. Further, the results uncover high-speed and stealthy attempts that were never previously documented. The case study of the largest DDoS attack in history lead to a better understanding of the nature and scale of this threat and can generate inferences that could contribute in detecting, preventing, assessing, mitigating and even attributing of DNS amplification DDoS activities.

Fachkha, C., Bou-Harb, E., Debbabi, M..  2014.  Fingerprinting Internet DNS Amplification DDoS Activities. New Technologies, Mobility and Security (NTMS), 2014 6th International Conference on. :1-5.

This work proposes a novel approach to infer and characterize Internet-scale DNS amplification DDoS attacks by leveraging the darknet space. Complementary to the pioneer work on inferring Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) using darknet, this work shows that we can extract DDoS activities without relying on backscattered analysis. The aim of this work is to extract cyber security intelligence related to DNS Amplification DDoS activities such as detection period, attack duration, intensity, packet size, rate and geo- location in addition to various network-layer and flow-based insights. To achieve this task, the proposed approach exploits certain DDoS parameters to detect the attacks. We empirically evaluate the proposed approach using 720 GB of real darknet data collected from a /13 address space during a recent three months period. Our analysis reveals that the approach was successful in inferring significant DNS amplification DDoS activities including the recent prominent attack that targeted one of the largest anti-spam organizations. Moreover, the analysis disclosed the mechanism of such DNS amplification DDoS attacks. Further, the results uncover high-speed and stealthy attempts that were never previously documented. The case study of the largest DDoS attack in history lead to a better understanding of the nature and scale of this threat and can generate inferences that could contribute in detecting, preventing, assessing, mitigating and even attributing of DNS amplification DDoS activities.
 

Boukhtouta, A., Lakhdari, N.-E., Debbabi, M..  2014.  Inferring Malware Family through Application Protocol Sequences Signature. New Technologies, Mobility and Security (NTMS), 2014 6th International Conference on. :1-5.

The dazzling emergence of cyber-threats exert today's cyberspace, which needs practical and efficient capabilities for malware traffic detection. In this paper, we propose an extension to an initial research effort, namely, towards fingerprinting malicious traffic by putting an emphasis on the attribution of maliciousness to malware families. The proposed technique in the previous work establishes a synergy between automatic dynamic analysis of malware and machine learning to fingerprint badness in network traffic. Machine learning algorithms are used with features that exploit only high-level properties of traffic packets (e.g. packet headers). Besides, the detection of malicious packets, we want to enhance fingerprinting capability with the identification of malware families responsible in the generation of malicious packets. The identification of the underlying malware family is derived from a sequence of application protocols, which is used as a signature to the family in question. Furthermore, our results show that our technique achieves promising malware family identification rate with low false positives.

Boukhtouta, A., Lakhdari, N.-E., Debbabi, M..  2014.  Inferring Malware Family through Application Protocol Sequences Signature. New Technologies, Mobility and Security (NTMS), 2014 6th International Conference on. :1-5.

The dazzling emergence of cyber-threats exert today's cyberspace, which needs practical and efficient capabilities for malware traffic detection. In this paper, we propose an extension to an initial research effort, namely, towards fingerprinting malicious traffic by putting an emphasis on the attribution of maliciousness to malware families. The proposed technique in the previous work establishes a synergy between automatic dynamic analysis of malware and machine learning to fingerprint badness in network traffic. Machine learning algorithms are used with features that exploit only high-level properties of traffic packets (e.g. packet headers). Besides, the detection of malicious packets, we want to enhance fingerprinting capability with the identification of malware families responsible in the generation of malicious packets. The identification of the underlying malware family is derived from a sequence of application protocols, which is used as a signature to the family in question. Furthermore, our results show that our technique achieves promising malware family identification rate with low false positives.

Boukhtouta, A., Lakhdari, N.-E., Debbabi, M..  2014.  Inferring Malware Family through Application Protocol Sequences Signature. New Technologies, Mobility and Security (NTMS), 2014 6th International Conference on. :1-5.

The dazzling emergence of cyber-threats exert today's cyberspace, which needs practical and efficient capabilities for malware traffic detection. In this paper, we propose an extension to an initial research effort, namely, towards fingerprinting malicious traffic by putting an emphasis on the attribution of maliciousness to malware families. The proposed technique in the previous work establishes a synergy between automatic dynamic analysis of malware and machine learning to fingerprint badness in network traffic. Machine learning algorithms are used with features that exploit only high-level properties of traffic packets (e.g. packet headers). Besides, the detection of malicious packets, we want to enhance fingerprinting capability with the identification of malware families responsible in the generation of malicious packets. The identification of the underlying malware family is derived from a sequence of application protocols, which is used as a signature to the family in question. Furthermore, our results show that our technique achieves promising malware family identification rate with low false positives.

Bou-Harb, E., Debbabi, M., Assi, C..  2014.  Behavioral analytics for inferring large-scale orchestrated probing events. Computer Communications Workshops (INFOCOM WKSHPS), 2014 IEEE Conference on. :506-511.

The significant dependence on cyberspace has indeed brought new risks that often compromise, exploit and damage invaluable data and systems. Thus, the capability to proactively infer malicious activities is of paramount importance. In this context, inferring probing events, which are commonly the first stage of any cyber attack, render a promising tactic to achieve that task. We have been receiving for the past three years 12 GB of daily malicious real darknet data (i.e., Internet traffic destined to half a million routable yet unallocated IP addresses) from more than 12 countries. This paper exploits such data to propose a novel approach that aims at capturing the behavior of the probing sources in an attempt to infer their orchestration (i.e., coordination) pattern. The latter defines a recently discovered characteristic of a new phenomenon of probing events that could be ominously leveraged to cause drastic Internet-wide and enterprise impacts as precursors of various cyber attacks. To accomplish its goals, the proposed approach leverages various signal and statistical techniques, information theoretical metrics, fuzzy approaches with real malware traffic and data mining methods. The approach is validated through one use case that arguably proves that a previously analyzed orchestrated probing event from last year is indeed still active, yet operating in a stealthy, very low rate mode. We envision that the proposed approach that is tailored towards darknet data, which is frequently, abundantly and effectively used to generate cyber threat intelligence, could be used by network security analysts, emergency response teams and/or observers of cyber events to infer large-scale orchestrated probing events for early cyber attack warning and notification.