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Inferring malicious network events in commercial ISP networks using traffic summarisation

With the recent increases in bandwidth available to home users, traffic rates for commercial national networks have also been increasing rapidly. This presents a problem for any network monitoring tool as the traffic rate they are expected to monitor is rising on a monthly basis. Security within these networks is para- mount as they are now an accepted home of trade and commerce. Core networks have been demonstrably and repeatedly open to attack; these events have had significant material costs to high profile targets. Network monitoring is an important part of network security, providing in- formation about potential security breaches and in understanding their impact. Monitoring at high data rates is a significant problem; both in terms of processing the information at line rates, and in terms of presenting the relevant information to the appropriate persons or systems. This thesis suggests that the use of summary statistics, gathered over a num- ber of packets, is a sensible and effective way of coping with high data rates. A methodology for discovering which metrics are appropriate for classifying signi- ficant network events using statistical summaries is presented. It is shown that the statistical measures found with this methodology can be used effectively as a metric for defining periods of significant anomaly, and further classifying these anomalies as legitimate or otherwise. In a laboratory environment, these metrics were used to detect DoS traffic representing as little as 0.1% of the overall network traffic. The metrics discovered were then analysed to demonstrate that they are ap- propriate and rational metrics for the detection of network level anomalies. These metrics were shown to have distinctive characteristics during DoS by the analysis of live network observations taken during DoS events. This work was implemented and operated within a live system, at multiple sites within the core of a commercial ISP network. The statistical summaries are generated at city based points of presence and gathered centrally to allow for spacial and topological correlation of security events. The architecture chosen was shown to be exible in its application. The system was used to detect the level of VoIP traffic present on the network through the implementation of packet size distribution analysis in a multi-gigabit environment. It was also used to detect unsolicited SMTP generators injecting messages into the core. ii Monitoring in a commercial network environment is subject to data protec- tion legislation. Accordingly the system presented processed only network and transport layer headers, all other data being discarded at the capture interface. The system described in this thesis was operational for a period of 6 months, during which a set of over 140 network anomalies, both malicious and benign were observed over a range of localities. The system design, example anomalies and metric analysis form the majority of this thesis.
Date January 2012
CreatorsSandford, Peter
PublisherLoughborough University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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