Automated security analysis of the home computer

Urbanska, Malgorzata, author
Ray, Indrajit, advisor
Howe, Adele E., advisor
Byrne, Zinta, committee member
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Home computer users pose special challenges to the security of their machines. Often home computer users do not realize that their computer activities have repercussions on computer security. Frequently, they are not aware about their role in keeping their home computer secure. Therefore, security analysis solutions for a home computer must differ significantly from standard security solutions. In addition to considering the properties of a single system, the characteristics of a home user have to be deliberated. Attack Graphs (AGs) are models that have been widely used for security analysis. A Personalized Attack Graph (PAG) extends the traditional AGs for this purpose. It characterizes the interplay between vulnerabilities, user actions, attacker strategies, and system activities. Success of such security analysis depends on the level of detailed information used to build the PAG. Because the PAG can have hundreds of elements and manual analysis can be error-prone and tedious, automation of this process is an essential component in the security analysis for the home computer user. Automated security analysis, which applies the PAG, requires information about user behavior, attacker and system actions, and vulnerabilities that are present in the home computer. In this thesis, we expatiate on 1) modeling home user behavior in order to obtain user specific information, 2) analyzing vulnerability information resources to get the most detailed vulnerability descriptions, and 3) transforming vulnerability information into a format useful for automated construction of the PAG. We propose the Bayesian User Action model that quantitatively represents the relationships between different user characteristics and provides the likelihood of a user taking a specific cyber related action. This model complements the PAG by delivering information about the home user. We demonstrate how different user behavior affects exploit likelihood in the PAG. We compare different vulnerability information sources in order to identify the best source for security analysis of the home computer. We calculate contextual similarity of the vulnerability descriptions to identify the same vulnerabilities from different vulnerability databases. We measure the similarity of vulnerability descriptions of the same vulnerability from multiple sources in order to identify any additional information that can be used to construct the PAG. We demonstrate a methodology of transforming a textual vulnerability description into a more structured format. We use Information Extraction (IE) techniques that are based on regular expression rules and dictionaries of keywords. We extract five types of information: infected software, attacker/user/system preconditions, and postconditions of exploiting vulnerabilities. We evaluate the performance of our IE system by measuring accuracy for each type of extracted information. Experiments on influence of user profile on the PAG show that probability of exploits differ depending on user personality. Results also suggest that exploits are sensitive to user actions and probability of exploits can change depending on evidence configuration. The results of similarity analysis of vulnerability descriptions show that contextual similarity can be used to identify the same vulnerability across different vulnerability databases. The results also show that the syntactic similarity does not imply additional vulnerability information. Results from performance analysis of our IE system show that it works very well for the majority of vulnerability descriptions. The possible issues with extraction are mainly caused by: 1) challenging to express vulnerability descriptions by regular expressions and 2) lack of explicitly included information in vulnerability descriptions.
2014 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights Access
attacks and defenses
attack graphs
security personalization
security risk modeling
system security
vulnerability database
Associated Publications