Data Mining Approaches for Intrusion Detection



In this paper we discuss our research in developing general and systematic methods for intrusion detection. The key ideas are to use data mining techniques to discover consistent and useful patterns of system features that describe program and user behavior, and use the set of relevant system features to compute (inductively learned) classifiers that can recognize anomalies and known intrusions. Using experiments on the sendmail system call data and the network tcpdump data, we demonstrate that we can construct concise and accurate classifiers to detect anomalies. We provide an overview on two general data mining algorithms that we have implemented: the association rules algorithm and the frequent episodes algorithm. These algorithms can be used to compute the intra- and inter- audit record patterns, which are essential in describing program or user behavior. The discovered patterns can guide the audit data gathering process and facilitate feature selection. To meet the challenges of both efficient learning (mining) and real-time detection, we propose an agent-based architecture for intrusion detection systems where the learning agents continuously compute and provide the updated (detection) models to the detection agents. 1 Introduction As network-based computer systems play increasingly vital roles in modern society, they have become the targets of our enemies and criminals. Therefore, we need to find the best ways possible to protect our systems. The security of a computer system is compromised when an intrusion takes place. An intrusion can be defined [HLMS90] as any set of actions that attempt to compromise the integrity, confidentiality or availability of a resource . Intrusion prevention techniques, such as user authentication (e.g. using passwords or biometrics), avoiding programming errors, and information protection (e.g., encryption) have been used to protect computer systems as a first line of defense. Intrusion prevention alone is not sufficient because as systems become ever more complex, there are always exploitable weakness in the systems due to design and programming errors, or various socially engineered penetration techniques. For example, after it was first reported many years ago, exploitable buffer overflow still exists in some recent system software due to programming errors. The policies that balance convenience versus strict control of a system and information access also make it impossible for an operational system to be completely secure. Intrusion detection is therefore needed as another wall to protect computer systems. The elements central to intrusion detection are: resources to be protected in a target system, i.e., user accounts, file systems, system kernels, etc; models that characterize the normal or legitimate behavior of these resources; techniques that compare the actual system activities with the established models, and identify those that are abnormal or intrusive . Many researchers have proposed and implemented different models which define different measures of system behavior, with an ad hoc presumption that normalcy and anomaly (or illegitimacy) will be accurately manifested in the chosen set of system features that are modeled and measured. Intrusion detection techniques can be categorized into misuse detection, which uses patterns of well-known attacks or weak spots of the system to identify intrusions; and anomaly detection, which tries to determine whether deviation from the established normal usage patterns can be flagged as intrusions. Misuse detection systems, for example [KS95] and STAT [IKP95], encode and match the sequence of signature actions (e.g., change the ownership of a file) of known intrusion scenarios. The main shortcomings of such systems are: known intrusion patterns have to be hand-coded into the system; they are unable to detect any future (unknown) intrusions that have no matched patterns stored in the system. Anomaly detection (sub)systems, such as IDES [LTG+92], establish normal usage patterns (profiles) using statistical measures on system features, for example, the CPU and I/O activities by a particular user or program. The main difficulties of these systems are: intuition and experience is relied upon in selecting the system features, which can vary greatly among different computing environments; some intrusions can only be detected by studying the sequential interrelation between events because each event alone may fit the profiles. Our research aims to eliminate, as much as possible, the manual and ad-hoc elements from the process of building an intrusion detection system. We take a data-centric point of view and consider intrusion detection as a data analysis process. Anomaly detection is about finding the normal usage patterns from the audit data, whereas misuse detection is about encoding and matching the intrusion patterns using the audit data. The central theme of our approach is to apply data mining techniques to intrusion detection. Data mining generally refers to the process of (automatically) extracting models from large stores of data [FPSS96]. The recent rapid development in data mining has made available a wide variety of algorithms, drawn from the fields of statistics, pattern recognition, machine learning, and database. Several types of algorithms are particularly relevant to our research:


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