Masquerade Attack Detection Using a Search-Behavior Modeling Approach

Ben Salem, Malek; Stolfo, Salvatore

Masquerade attacks are unfortunately a familiar security problem that is a consequence of identity theft. Detecting masqueraders is very hard. Prior work has focused on user command modeling to identify abnormal behavior indicative of impersonation. This paper extends prior work by presenting one-class Hellinger distance-based and one-class SVM modeling techniques that use a set of novel features to reveal user intent. The specific objective is to model user search profiles and detect deviations indicating a masquerade attack. We hypothesize that each individual user knows their own file system well enough to search in a limited, targeted and unique fashion in order to find information germane to their current task. Masqueraders, on the other hand, will likely not know the file system and layout of another user's desktop, and would likely search more extensively and broadly in a manner that is different than the victim user being impersonated. We extend prior research that uses UNIX command sequences issued by users as the audit source by relying upon an abstraction of commands. We devise taxonomies of UNIX commands and Windows applications that are used to abstract sequences of user commands and actions. We also gathered our own normal and masquerader data sets captured in a Windows environment for evaluation. The datasets are publicly available for other researchers who wish to study masquerade attack rather than author identification as in much of the prior reported work. The experimental results show that modeling search behavior reliably detects all masqueraders with a very low false positive rate of 0.1%, far better than prior published results. The limited set of features used for search behavior modeling also results in huge performance gains over the same modeling techniques that use larger sets of features.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-027-09
Published Here
July 15, 2010