Abstract: The frequency and harmfulness of cyber-attacks are increasing every day, and with them also the amount of data that the cyber-forensics analysts need to collect and analyze. In this paper, we propose a formal analysis process that allows an analyst to filter the enormous amount of evidence collected and either identify crucial information about the attack (e.g., when it occurred, its culprit, its target) or, at the very least, perform a pre-analysis to reduce the complexity of the problem in order to then draw conclusions more swiftly and efficiently. We introduce the Evidence Logic EL for representing simple and derived pieces of evidence from different sources. We propose a procedure, based on monotonic reasoning, that rewrites the pieces of evidence with the use of tableau rules, based on relations of trust between sources and the reasoning behind the derived evidence, and yields a consistent set of pieces of evidence. As proof of concept, we apply our analysis process to a concrete cyber-forensics case study.
Our paper WSNs Under Attack! How Bad Is It? Evaluating Connectivity Impact Using Centrality Measures has been presented at the Living in the Internet of Things: A PETRAS, IoTUK & IET Conference, Forum & Exhibition.
Abstract: We propose a model to represent the health of WSNs that allows us to evaluate a network’s ability to execute its functions. Central to this model is how we quantify the importance of each network node. As we focus on the availability of the network data, we investigate how well different centrality measures identify the significance of each node for the network connectivity. In this process, we propose a new metric named current-flow sink betweenness. Through a number of experiments , we demonstrate that while no metric is invariably better in identifying sensors’ connectivity relevance, the proposed current-flow sink betweenness outperforms existing metrics in the vast majority of cases.
Many machine learning systems rely on data collected in the wild from untrusted sources, exposing the learning algorithms to data poisoning. Attackers can inject malicious data in the training dataset to subvert the learning process, compromising the performance of the algorithm producing errors in a targeted or an indiscriminate way. Label flipping attacks are a special case of data poisoning, where the attacker can control the labels assigned to a fraction of the training points. Even if the capabilities of the attacker are constrained, these attacks have been shown to be effective to significantly degrade the performance of the system. In this paper we propose an efficient algorithm to perform optimal label flipping poisoning attacks and a mechanism to detect and relabel suspicious data points, mitigating the effect of such poisoning attacks.
Malicious data injections pose a severe threat to the systems based on Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) since they give the attacker control over the measurements, and on the system’s status and response in turn. Malicious measurements are particularly threatening when used to spoof or mask events of interest, thus eliciting or preventing desirable responses. Spoofing and masking attacks are particularly difficult to detect since they depict plausible behaviours, especially if multiple sensors have been compromised and collude to inject a coherent set of malicious measurements. Previous work has tackled the problem through measurements inspection, which analyses the inter-measurements correlations induced by the physical phenomena. However, these techniques consider simplistic attacks and are not robust to collusion. Moreover, they assume highly predictable patterns in the measurements distribution, which are invalidated by the unpredictability of events. We design a set of techniques that effectively detect malicious data injections in the presence of sophisticated collusion strategies, when one or more events manifest. Moreover, we build a methodology to characterise the likely compromised sensors. We also design diagnosis criteria that allow us to distinguish anomalies arising from malicious interference and faults. In contrast with previous work, we test the robustness of our methodology with automated and sophisticated attacks, where the attacker aims to evade detection. We conclude that our approach outperforms state-of-the-a
rt approaches. Moreover, we estimate quantitatively the WSN degree of resilience and provide a methodology to give a WSN owner an assured degree of resilience by automatically designing the WSN deployment. To deal also with the extreme scenario where the attacker has compromised most of the WSN, we propose a combination with software attestation techniques, which are more reliable when malicious data is originated by a compromised software, but also more expensive, and achieve an excellent trade-off between cost and resilience.
Machine learning has become an important component for many systems and applications including computer vision, spam filtering, malware and network intrusion detection, among others. Despite the capabilities of machine learning algorithms to extract valuable information from data and produce accurate predictions, it has been shown that these algorithms are vulnerable to attacks.
Data poisoning is one of the most relevant security threats against machine learning systems, where attackers can subvert the learning process by injecting malicious samples in the training data. Recent work in adversarial machine learning has shown that the so-called optimal attack strategies can successfully poison linear classifiers, degrading the performance of the system dramatically after compromising a small fraction of the training dataset. In this paper we propose a defence mechanism to mitigate the effect of these optimal poisoning attacks based on outlier detection. We show empirically that the adversarial examples generated by these attack strategies are quite different from genuine points, as no detectability constrains are considered to craft the attack. Hence, they can be detected with an appropriate pre-filtering of the training dataset.
Abstract: Measurements collected in a wireless sensor network (WSN) can be maliciously compromised through several attacks, but anomaly detection algorithms may provide resilience by detecting inconsistencies in the data. Anomaly detection can identify severe threats to WSN applications, provided that there is a sufficient amount of genuine information. This article presents a novel method to calculate an assurance measure for the network by estimating the maximum number of malicious measurements that can be tolerated. In previous work, the resilience of anomaly detection to malicious measurements has been tested only against arbitrary attacks, which are not necessarily sophisticated. The novel method presented here is based on an optimization algorithm, which maximizes the attack’s chance of staying undetected while causing damage to the application, thus seeking the worst-case scenario for the anomaly detection algorithm. The algorithm is tested on a wildfire monitoring WSN to estimate the benefits of anomaly detection on the system’s resilience. The algorithm also returns the measurements that the attacker needs to synthesize, which are studied to highlight the weak spots of anomaly detection. Finally, this article presents a novel methodology that takes in input the degree of resilience required and automatically designs the deployment that satisfies such a requirement.
The paper “Improving Data Sharing in Data Rich Environments” was accepted at the IEEE Big Data International Workshop on Policy-based Autonomic Data Governance (PADG), part of the 15th IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data 2017), December 11-14, 2017, Boston, MA, USA. This work was done in collaboration with our partners (BAE Systems, IBM UK and IBM US) from the DAIS International Technology Alliance (ITA). The paper can be found here.
Abstract: The increasing use of big data comes along with the problem of ensuring correct and secure data access. There is a need to maximise the data dissemination whilst controlling their access. Depending on the type of users different qualities and parts of data are shared. We introduce an alteration mechanism, more precisely a restriction one, based on a policy analysis language. The alteration reflects the level of trust and relations the users have, and are represented as policies inside the data sharing agreements. These agreements are attached to the data and are enforced every time the data are accessed, used or shared. We show the use of our alteration mechanism with a military use case, where different parties are involved during the missions, and they have different relations of trust and partnership.
The work was supported by EPSRC Project CIPART grant no. EP/L022729/1 and DAIS ITA (Sponsored by U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.K. Ministry of Defence under Agreement Number W911NF-16-3-0001).
In this paper, we describe an efficient methodology to guide investigators during network forensic analysis. To this end, we introduce the concept of core attack graph, a compact representation of the main routes an attacker can take towards specific network targets. Such compactness allows forensic investigators to focus their efforts on critical nodes that are more likely to be part of attack paths, thus reducing the overall number of nodes (devices, network privileges) that need to be examined. Nevertheless, core graphs also allow investigators to hierarchically explore the graph in order to retrieve different levels of summarised information. We have evaluated our approach over different network topologies varying parameters such as network size, density, and forensic evaluation threshold. Our results demonstrate that we can achieve the same level of accuracy provided by standard logical attack graphs while significantly reducing the exploration rate of the network.
Attack graphs constitute a powerful security tool aimed at modelling the many ways in which an attacker may compromise different assets in a network. Despite their usefulness in several security-related activities (e.g. hardening, monitoring, forensics), the complexity of these graphs can massively grow as the network becomes denser and larger, thus defying their practical usability. In this presentation, we first describe some of the problems that currently challenge the practical use of attack graphs. We then explain our approach based on core attack graphs, a novel perspective to address attack graph complexity. Finally, we present Naggen, a tool for generating, visualising and exploring core attack graphs. We use Naggen to show the advantages of our approach on different security applications.
Attack graphs offer a powerful framework for security risk assessment. They provide a compact representation of the attack paths that an attacker can follow to compromise network resources from the analysis of the network topology and vulnerabilities. The uncertainty about the attacker’s behaviour makes Bayesian networks suitable to model attack graphs to perform static and dynamic security risk assessment. Thus, whilst static analysis of attack graphs considers the security posture at rest, dynamic analysis accounts for evidence of compromise at run-time, helping system administrators to react against potential threats. In this paper, we introduce a Bayesian attack graph model that allows to estimate the probabilities of an attacker compromising different resources of the network. We show how exact and approximate inference techniques can be efficiently applied on Bayesian attack graph models with thousands of nodes.