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Proceedings Paper

Characterization of computer network events through simultaneous feature selection and clustering of intrusion alerts
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Paper Abstract

As computer network security threats increase, many organizations implement multiple Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) to maximize the likelihood of intrusion detection and provide a comprehensive understanding of intrusion activities. However, NIDS trigger a massive number of alerts on a daily basis. This can be overwhelming for computer network security analysts since it is a slow and tedious process to manually analyse each alert produced. Thus, automated and intelligent clustering of alerts is important to reveal the structural correlation of events by grouping alerts with common features. As the nature of computer network attacks, and therefore alerts, is not known in advance, unsupervised alert clustering is a promising approach to achieve this goal. We propose a joint optimization technique for feature selection and clustering to aggregate similar alerts and to reduce the number of alerts that analysts have to handle individually. More precisely, each identified feature is assigned a binary value, which reflects the feature's saliency. This value is treated as a hidden variable and incorporated into a likelihood function for clustering. Since computing the optimal solution of the likelihood function directly is analytically intractable, we use the Expectation-Maximisation (EM) algorithm to iteratively update the hidden variable and use it to maximize the expected likelihood. Our empirical results, using a labelled Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 2000 reference dataset, show that the proposed method gives better results than the EM clustering without feature selection in terms of the clustering accuracy.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 May 2014
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 9121, Multisensor, Multisource Information Fusion: Architectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2014, 912107 (22 May 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2052852
Show Author Affiliations
Siyue Chen, Univ. of Calgary (Canada)
Henry Leung, Univ. of Calgary (Canada)
Maxwell Dondo, Defence Research and Development Canada (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9121:
Multisensor, Multisource Information Fusion: Architectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2014
Jerome J. Braun, Editor(s)

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