Visible to the public Dynamic Defense Against Adaptive and Persistent Adversaries

TitleDynamic Defense Against Adaptive and Persistent Adversaries
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPoovendran, Radha
Conference NameProceedings of the 5th ACM Workshop on Moving Target Defense
ISBN Number978-1-4503-6003-6
Keywordsadvanced persistent threats, Dynamic Information Flow Tracking, game theoretic security, game theory, human factors, moving target defense, Predictive Metrics, pubcrawl, Resiliency, Scalability, security, Stochastic computing

This talk will cover two topics, namely, modeling and design of Moving Target Defense (MTD), and DIFT games for modeling Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). We will first present a game-theoretic approach to characterizing the trade-off between resource efficiency and defense effectiveness in decoy- and randomization-based MTD. We will then address the game formulation for APTs. APTs are mounted by intelligent and resourceful adversaries who gain access to a targeted system and gather information over an extended period of time. APTs consist of multiple stages, including initial system compromise, privilege escalation, and data exfiltration, each of which involves strategic interaction between the APT and the targeted system. While this interaction can be viewed as a game, the stealthiness, adaptiveness, and unpredictability of APTs imply that the information structure of the game and the strategies of the APT are not readily available. Our approach to modeling APTs is based on the insight that the persistent nature of APTs creates information flows in the system that can be monitored. One monitoring mechanism is Dynamic Information Flow Tracking (DIFT), which taints and tracks malicious information flows through a system and inspects the flows at designated traps. Since tainting all flows in the system will incur significant memory and storage overhead, efficient tagging policies are needed to maximize the probability of detecting the APT while minimizing resource costs. In this work, we develop a multi-stage stochastic game framework for modeling the interaction between an APT and a DIFT, as well as designing an efficient DIFT-based defense. Our model is grounded on APT data gathered using the Refinable Attack Investigation (RAIN) flow-tracking framework. We present the current state of our formulation, insights that it provides on designing effective defenses against APTs, and directions for future work.

Citation Keypoovendran_dynamic_2018