Exploiting the Outcome of Outlier Detection for Novel Attack Pattern Recognition on Streaming Data
Future-oriented networking infrastructures are characterized by highly dynamic Streaming Data (SD) whose volume, speed and number of dimensions increased significantly over the past couple of years, energized by trends such as Software-Defined Networking or Artificial Intelligence. As an essential core component of network security, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) help to uncover malicious activity. In particular, consecutively applied alert correlation methods can aid in mining attack patterns based on the alerts generated by IDS. However, most of the existing methods lack the functionality to deal with SD data affected by the phenomenon called concept drift and are mainly designed to operate on the output from signature-based IDS. Although unsupervised Outlier Detection (OD) methods have the ability to detect yet unknown attacks, most of the alert correlation methods cannot handle the outcome of such anomaly-based IDS. In this paper, we introduce a novel framework called Streaming Outlier Analysis and Attack Pattern Recognition, denoted as SOAAPR, which is able to process the output of various online unsupervised OD methods in a streaming fashion to extract information about novel attack patterns. Three different privacy-preserving, fingerprint-like signatures are computed from the clustered set of correlated alerts by SOAAPR, which characterizes and represents the potential attack scenarios with respect to their communication relations, their manifestation in the data’s features and their temporal behavior. Beyond the recognition of known attacks, comparing derived signatures, they can be leveraged to find similarities between yet unknown and novel attack patterns. The evaluation, which is split into two parts, takes advantage of attack scenarios from the widely-used and popular CICIDS2017 and CSE-CIC-IDS2018 datasets. Firstly, the streaming alert correlation capability is evaluated on CICIDS2017 and compared to a state-of-the-art offline algorithm, called Graph-based Alert Correlation (GAC), which has the potential to deal with the outcome of anomaly-based IDS. Secondly, the three types of signatures are computed from attack scenarios in the datasets and compared to each other. The discussion of results, on the one hand, shows that SOAAPR can compete with GAC in terms of alert correlation capability leveraging four different metrics and outperforms it significantly in terms of processing time by an average factor of 70 in 11 attack scenarios. On the other hand, in most cases, all three types of signatures seem to reliably characterize attack scenarios such that similar ones are grouped together, with up to 99.05% similarity between the FTP and SSH Patator attack.