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Predicting Malicious Web Attacks

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-will-begin-ddosing-me-in-three-two-one dept.

Security 82

KentuckyFC writes "Recommendation systems attempt to guess what books, movies, or news people are likely to be interested in. Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix have developed algorithms to mine vast databases looking for correlations that they then use to recommend new items. Now a team of computer scientists has used some of the same filtering techniques to predict the origin of malicious Web attacks so that they can be blacklisted in advance. The team mined a database of hundreds of millions of security logs looking for correlations between victims. The correlations were then used to produce a predictive blacklist of potential attackers. The team says its algorithm is up to 70 per cent more successful at predicting the origin of attacks than current state-of-the-art predictive blacklisting."

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What we really need. (1, Offtopic)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110725)

Hiro Protagonist. And his sword. And his undefeatedness-nous.

Re:What we really need. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111263)

I predict Rob Malda's ass looks JUICY!

No doubt useful (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110727)

But this is still treating the symptom as opposed to the core problem, which is poor security in OS and app design.

Microsoft is starting to come around on this to an extent (not running as administrator), but shouldn't we be more concerned about true security?

Re:No doubt useful (3, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110797)

Why do both have to be mutually exclusive? Why can't the problem be approached from both sides by different groups whose skillsets are appropriate for what they're doing?

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110921)

Perhaps I should included my title in my post. No doubt this useful given the current situation. But we wouldn't be in this position so much if we had well designed systems in place from day 1.

I do think this is interesting how we can use massive data sets to predict and map trends so much quicker. But I'd rather not have to worry about them in the first place.

Re:No doubt useful (2, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 5 years ago | (#29112243)

I think the underlying issue has come from the fact that people have been more focused on making computers do what they want them to do, and not focused on making them do it securely. It's great to sit on the sidelines and talk about how it should have been done better/smarter/more securely in the first place. That perspective does not take into account the reality that computers are relatively new and new functionality comes out almost every day. To consider another aspect of security, we've been living in buildings for over two thousand years and we're still finding ways to make buildings more secure, and dealing with robberies and other similar breaches of security. If, as a species we haven't perfected securing our living spaces in over two millenia, how can we expect ourselves to secure our computer systems in the space of a couple of decades?

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113213)

Unix was designed from day 1 with the notion that it is a multi-user system that needs serious integrated security. Windows was designed for a home PC with a single user. It wasn't designed with the notion that it would be on the internet, or need much in the way of security.

It isn't to say that we couldn't have forseen security concerns to design it correctly in the first place. Most *nix systems were always designed this way. Windows opted not to follow that model.

Choosing Security vs. Dancing Pigs vs. Unix (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113833)

Bruce Schneier [schneierfacts.com] says that give a choice between security and dancing pigs on your computer, people will take the dancing pigs every time.

When Windows came out, it was perfectly secure - there's only one user in the universe, and she's allowed to do whatever she wants. ("Format C: "? Sure!).

Unfortunately, while Unix was designed from the beginning for security, it didn't always _stay_ designed for security, and some of the things that were done for security had serious tradeoffs. Networking was usually the worst, certainly from TCP/IP's beginnings in 4.2BSD, but also other protocols and other applications had problems, and you're not secure unless everything's secured in some way.

  • Low-numbered well-known tcp/udp ports can only be opened as root. While that avoided having ordinary lusers running fake servers, a generally worthwhile goal, it meant that every network service had to be implemented securely, and if any service had a bug, exploiting it made you root! (Of course, you don't need to be root to cause trouble - the Morris Worm didn't bother - but if you're a malicious attacker you want to be root because you can trash everybody, not just hog resources or trash individual users.)
  • If you're careful, you can open any special ports you need and then setuid to a non-root user, but not every programmer bothered, and some programs were already toast before they did that.
  • Sendmail used to run as root. There's no need for a mail system to run as root just to deliver mail - the System V and V8 mailers typically used group privileges to deliver mail into mailboxes - but not only did sendmail need Port 25, it also had a dancing-pigs feature, which was the ability to run received mail for a user through a mail-handling program with that user's privileges, and the easiest way to do that was to run as root.
  • Sendmail's pretty solid stuff these days, but it's been a favorite target for decades, not only because of its complexity, but because it's important enough that for years, almost any Unix machine was running it.
  • For the non-sendmail crowd, UUCP had its security holes as well, though the Honey DanBer version helped fix a lot of them. Remotely executing programs is a really useful and powerful concept - and doing it in environments where you have to safety-check every input that could possibly get handed to a shell means that somebody's going to slip a backquote through _some_ program or other and you'll be toast again.
  • Unix security means that the operating system is mostly protected from users and whatever malicious programs the users can be conned into running, but the users can still trash their own environments. And root used to be a user, and still sort of is, though we've gotten better about that. And email makes it easy to hand files to any user in hopes they'll run it; the big change over the decades is that you can send them more than just ASCII or EBCDIC.
  • Even if Unix was secure, it was originally accessed from terminals that might not be dumb enough to be secure. Back in 1979, one of the San Francisco area papers ran an article that "hackers in Berkeley" had found a security hole in "the Unix, a computer made by DEC" (ahem...) It was the then-already-old trick of sending escape sequences to a VT100 or HP2621 that would get echoed back to the computer as if the user had typed them. So what cool things is your computer running to talk to your iPhone or Bluetooth?
  • Password security has always been a problem. The original Unix password system was pretty strong for its day, but if you picked a wimpy password, you were vulnerable to password-guessing. (And some of the early password-length-enforcers only applied to regular users, not root, so that's the obvious password to try cracking.)
  • Unix file permissions were very flexible, but you had to be sure to tighten all of the ones that needed to be tight.

(Back when I was a newbie learning security, RTM's father used at least the last three of those methods to crack into my accounts :-)

Re:Choosing Security vs. Dancing Pigs vs. Unix (1)

kabloom (755503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29115419)

In truth, all you need to do is read the Art of War, and you'll know that implementing proper Windows permissions couldn't possibly the the answer to security. You'll also realize that collaborative filtering couldn't possibly the the answer to security either.

The only answer is to be one step ahead of the attackers, and to think up what they're going to throw at you next.

(That's not to say that proper Windows permissions don't help, and that collaborative filtering doesn't help, but security is war, and the white hats need to keep trying to win. Just because you have a certain security measure doesn't mean you're secure.)

Re:No doubt useful (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110855)

but shouldn't we be more concerned about true security?

What is "true security" against the main threat of the modern era: social engineering? How does your operating system protect you from from responding to that e-mail you've just received from your long lost uncle in Nigeria? How do you protect a user that will click on the user account control pop-up as many times as is required to install that cool "weather forecasting" program that sits in his task tray?

Or were you referring to "true security" in the context of firearms, expendable redshirts and moats filled with laser wielding sharks? ;)

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111011)

Don't underestimate sharks with friggen laser beams!

I agree that Social Engineering is likely the number one threat in many cases.

UAC is security theater in that people are trained to simply click allow, absolving Microsoft of responsibility.

What I mean by true security is sandboxing and accountability. Look at Chrome's design, in that a browser window (process) has limited access to data on your HDD.

Users in an enterprise environment frankly shouldn't have access to install software at all. And the more I think about it, I wonder if not only thin-client remote terminals are the way to go for the future, but temporary kiosk sessions as well.

Lastly, a really good file system from a security standpoint should not only have an access time, but log the user who accessed it at that time.

Education is the best weapon to combat social engineering (and it isn't that hard to tell people NEVER give out your password), but a well designed system certainly helps.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113105)

Users in an enterprise environment frankly shouldn't have access to install software at all.

Which leads us to the true security question/issue. The only truly secure system is one users don't have access to. In any other environment, where people are trying to get work done. a completely locked down environment can impede the business. The end goal, whether the security types like it or not, isn't a secure environment. It's to make money or reach some other objective. Security is relevant in that it supports your progress towards that objective. The economic reality is that there is tension between complete security, which keeps you from losing money, and productivity, which is how you make money.

In my company's environment, we have a pretty good focus on security, and things are generally pretty locked down. But we have classes of users that benefit from less locked down environments, because the IT guys don't know how to install something from source, for example, and can't be bothered (or, more charitably, are kept too busy) to step out of the MCSE box to learn. Fortunately, we have been able to work things out so that some of us enjoy a bit more freedom than others.

Re:No doubt useful (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113531)

And if you just take the PCs away from the silly users and lock them away in safes they'll be 100% secure! Seriously sandboxing is a bandaid on a bullet wound, and is as much bullshit as "as long as they can't get root its okay". Well, no its not. If I have control over your network connection why would I give a shit if it is sandboxed or not? As long as I can get the user to visit my site and load up my malware I can spew spam, I can DDOS, etc. Just like if you get a hold of the local user account you can infect all their files (which is all they give a shit about anyway) and it doesn't matter if you have root or not. if the user can do it then so can you if you have the same privileges.

Which bring me to your other point: education. Allow me to say, as someone who has been selling, building, and repairing machines for home users and SOHO and SMB customers for nearly 15 years what I think of that...BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA! It will NEVER ever work! Do you know why? Because the malware guy is smarter than your user. He will ALWAYS be smarter than your user, and will win in a battle of wits every single time. Because I have seen time and time again where a user has boned his system doing something dodgy where they KNEW it was dodgy, but the carrot was just too good to resist!

Pretty much the only way to stop malware is to take away all rights and privileges the user has, basically giving them a locked down thin client. Because for every user you have that you might be able to educate you have 1000+ that will never understand and just get a glassed over look on their face when you try to explain. I also believe that JavaScript and the way sites are more and more using it instead of actually designing their websites correctly, as well as the same problem with sites being entirely flash based, will come back to bite us in the ass like ActiveX did. I believe that third party code running on websites will eventually either need to be banned, or a way to sanitize the code before it ever runs will have to be built into browsers.

But even with all that the "Velmas" of this world, who will click on anything if you wave the right carrot, in her case anything that said "screensaver" or "cute", will bite you in the ass. All we can do is try to minimize the damage they can cause and clean up the messes afterward. To quote Forest Gump "Stupid is as stupid does" and with nearly every job and multiple home machines in the average household you just can't eliminate stupid.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120611)

As long as I can get the user to visit my site and load up my malware I can spew spam, I can DDOS, etc.

Not true. If neither the user nor app have admin/root access, and you're using a secure browser (say, Chrome) then your malicious web site can't do squat. The biggest hole here right now would be that plugins aren't fully sandboxed, and Acrobat has a serious vulnerability every other week. But that is partially why I keep recommending to businesses to use Foxit as opposed to Acrobat.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29133117)

Uhhh... I take it you haven't read this [zdnet.com] yet, have you? The reason Chrome has been a "secure browser" so far is the SAME reason I would argue that Linux hasn't been seeing viruses: It just ain't a big enough target yet to waste serious brain power on. But as it grows more popular (I can remember a time when FF never had hardly any problems either) the amount of exploits WILL go up, because as I said (and you yourself pointed out with your post) sandboxes are bandaids on bullet wounds.

With so many legit reasons to be calling outside the browser to render "web 2.0" content means you have to try to lock down the browser PLUS JavaScript PLUS Flash PLUS Acrobat PLUS Java PLUS WMP and I'm sure others could think of another dozen or so to add to that, like Quicktime, ETC. That is just too many attack vectors IMHO, and why we need to step back and re-examine the way we interact with the web. And mark my words we WILL be looking back in five years and seeing that JavaScript ended up just as much of a malware haven as ActiveX. The only difference IMHO is that JavaScript so far has been too much of a PITA to write truly cross platform nasties for and therefor JavaScript bugs have been shooting the big game by going after Windows only.

Trust me, if OSX and/or Linux makes a huge jump in users that WILL change. Just look at DNSChanger for Mac. Yes, the user has to be stupid enough to run in, but guess what? Many users are quite stupid. Working with them for nearly 15 years I know this quite well. I think ultimately we are gonna have to take a step back, look at how we interact with the web, and work at making the interaction safer from the ground up. Perhaps by having a way to isolate and scan and THEN sandbox code before it is ever ran. But as things are now I say you are in an arms race you can't ever win, because the malware writers can spend all day every day just looking for little weird attack vectors that you have probably never thought of. After all we have been building homes for 2000+ years and can't figure out a way to make them burglar proof cheaply and easily, what makes you think we can make an "idiot proof" and hacker proof browser that will still allow the "web 2.0" content the content producers and public wants?

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29135311)

Every browser uses javascript and plugins. Saying that Chrome isn't secure because of these things is silly.

Chrome places each process in a jail and prohibits access to the HDD to make changes to your system.

Will there be Acrobat exploits that can also be accessed via Chome? Yes, until Chrome figures out how to fully sandbox plugins, but Google said they are working with plugin vendors to make them play nice within Chrome's security concepts. Chrome is still more secure than IE and Firefox, not just because it is new, but because of how it is designed.

Webkit itself has been around in usage for years. But Google's use of Webkit is more secure than Safari, Konqueror, Arora, etc. because of its security model.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29114205)

sers in an enterprise environment frankly shouldn't have access to install software at all.

Unfortunately it's rarely that simple. I've worked in two "enterprise" environments in my IT career. One (my current job) makes this fairly easy to implement -- most of our operations run around web based database apps and Office. Very easy to lock users into restricted accounts.

The other enterprise I worked for was an insurance agency. The insurance industry has so much legacy software that restricting users to non-admin accounts is not possible unless you are willing to sacrifice needed functionality. Many of these legacy apps come directly from the insurance companies that you do business with and there is no alternative. You either use them or you don't write business with that particular company.

I eventually had to settle for imaging our workstations and restoring them from the image whenever the user managed to fuck them up. Not the ideal solution but it was the best I could do in that situation.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120437)

Both of the two enterprise environments I've worked in have used proprietary legacy apps that "need" admin rights.

Most of the time, all the app really needs is write access to a certain folder. However, in the rare instance that the process truly does need administrator access, I make the app/process into a Windows service that starts automatically at login with System level access. The user doesn't have admin access, and other apps don't. That one app is elevated.

Re:No doubt useful (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111067)

What is "true security" against the main threat of the modern era: social engineering?

Social engineering will always be a problem but there is a simple fix. Restrict the user on damage they can do on their own given the worse case circumstances and you will also end up with the same prevention of malware in the process.

Speaking of which... Why does a web page ever need to communicate with the OS to make file changes to the OS? Why?! Why I ask?!

This is a flawed premise and will solve 99% of the problems we face with internet security.

The OS must sandbox the browser and its add-ons between it and the OS.

In fact... Why stop there... The OS must be sandboxes between it and the user.

Basically true security is basically given the users and OS like the iPhone and patting them on the back and say "have a nice day".

"But I want to use my legacy apps?" they say...

"Well I want a pony!" you reply "But you'll just have to deal with a limited OS because we can't have nice things because they keep installing viruses on their machine!"

How do you protect a user that will click on the user account control pop-up as many times as is required to install that cool "weather forecasting" program that sits in his task tray?

Require the "weather forecasting" app to submit an approval to a central repository like the iPhone.

See where I am leading you...

Seriously... In the future the average user will put up with an OS like the iPhone and they'll be happy because it just works or appears to and the admins of the world will be happy because people aren't screwing things up with bot nets.

Win7 and IE8 might be a big step in that direction but we'll have to see.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111805)

Yes, because we all want one company controlling what apps we can install.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 5 years ago | (#29112267)

Some of us would be happy if one company would give us a central repository that we could manage for our own networks. Software whitelisting isn't exactly a new concept.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113119)

I think there is a company willing to do that. They're in Redmond, Washington.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113259)

If it was opt-in, then it could work, but if you had to use it like the iphone, then it wouldn't be so great

Re:No doubt useful (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29112167)

" "Well I want a pony!" you reply "But you'll just have to deal with a limited OS because we can't have nice things because they keep installing viruses on their machine!" "

Thank you, you've just made Jonathan Zittrain's point exactly [futureoftheinternet.org] .

Except he thinks this is a bad development and can still be changed.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 5 years ago | (#29114675)

Require the "weather forecasting" app to submit an approval to a central repository like the iPhone.

See where I am leading you...

Yes, and it is a bad idea. Secure the OS by securing the OS, not by adding in a random trusted third-party that will probably make mistakes anyway (maybe we should call that "security by authority"?). Sandbox applications so they only have access to the files and services they need, perhaps with permissions like "safe" network access which is capped or can only access one server or port or has to display the bandwidth used on screen and be advertized as a possibly dangerous high-network usage application (ex. for a p2p app). Google's Android has a per-application permissions system where users are told which permissions an application is requesting on install. App Armor allows for simple sandboxing on Linux. IE8's sandbox is a definite good step in the right direction.

With App Armor there have been suggestions of "generic profiles" like web browser, game, p2p program, etc. which would have less strict limitations than a program-specific profile but still limit what the application can do while presenting the limitations in a way the user can understand.

One way to handle anything like network access limitations I mentioned above might be to create a separate virtual network adapter for every application.

Let legacy applications live in virtualized environments if necessary. There is no reason to not let an application run just because it is old, although paying some amount of emulation penalty is reasonable and unlikely to be an issue.

Re:No doubt useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111083)

The lasers are mounted to the sharks, technically, the sharks are wielding them.

We leave that to the bad tempered sea bass.

What the military means by "Secure a computer" (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29113867)

I used to work with an ex-Navy guy - our lab became much neater once he joined us, and more secure as well. But different organizations have much different concepts of what it means to "secure a computer" -

  • The Army sends out computer technicians to look at log files.
  • The Navy ties the computer down with ropes and netting to keep it from bouncing around in rough seas, and does whatever it takes to keep the computer room water tight.
  • The Marines send a squad of guys with automatic weapons to make sure nobody gets near it.
  • The Air Force? They cut a purchase order to secure another computer.

A testament to my everlasting love. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111029)

Eliza Dorbenbrod I want to fuck you like a blunderbuss.

Re:No doubt useful (3, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111387)

"True security" is a fantasy. No such thing exists, nor will it ever.

We should be concerned with balancing risk reduction with its cost. We should not be concerned with your silly fantasy.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111705)

Designing the OS to be secure as opposed to chasing people attacking vulnerabilities left by design in the OS is silly?

Re:No doubt useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29116567)

"Designing the OS to be secure" is the problem here, how do you define a "secure OS?"

imagine, for example, if every door in your house had a lock and key (bathroom, bedroom, etc.) that you should lock when you leave the room, and unlock before you can enter.

most people, after a certain amount of time will just say "to hell with it" and leave all the doors open. the functionality remains in place for those who wish to always lock and unlock the doors. this would be a secure OS. but enforcing everyone, all the time, to lock/unlock all the doors, is essentially what you are saying and this, as GP as indicated, is indeed a fantasy.

Re:No doubt useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111789)

Speak for yourself. People call you insightful--but I see no reason I should have to accept most of society's ...incredibly high risk tolerance when it comes to computing.

I've got a browser. I know it's a problem. I can't fix it. If I want to surf the web I need cookies, javascript, flash. They're all gaping huge problems. If you claim they aren't, you unconditionally do not know what you're talking about. You may claim the benefits outweigh the risk--but at that point, the claim is synonymous with "I volunteer to permit total strangers full access to my system in order to the surf the web"--and there's nothing wrong with people rejecting that conclusion and taking measure to enforce it.

So my browser instead runs in a vmware image--and when that image shuts down *everything* on the VM goes back to the way it was before. It isn't perfectly safe (there's non-theoretical VM escapes), but it's good enough.

You can talk about "balance" all you want--but most people will trade *anything* for cost savings. I'd rather own my machine--than let some guy in china use it--thanks.

Re:No doubt useful (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#29117343)

I truly agree, bad OS design, some lack of security based on too much money it would cost, and not enough people really taking security seriously, there will always be that one person with a password equal to a dogs name or their birthday!!!

Re:No doubt useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29123437)

Yeah and did you notice they said 70% more effective than the leading techniques. I wonder how effective that actually is. Without any knowledge of the existing algorithms it could be complete garbage.

Minority Report (2, Interesting)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110785)

Wonderful. It's Minority Report for the internet.
What about false positives? Can they be held responsible for blacklisting an innocent site?

Re:Minority Report (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110989)

You can't be held responsible for blacklisting sites right now, what makes this any different from any other Blacklist?

If you want to get traffic to/from the site then Whitelist it.

Now they say their approach is 70% better than existing Predictive Blacklist technology, well how good is that, 70% better than horrible false positives and annoyed customers is not enough. Throwing darts at the DNS listings is also not optimal, so how good is this new technique.

BTW Amazon and Netflix recommend crap to me I don't want all the time.

Re:Minority Report (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111701)

Well, think about this scenario.
Most people don't understand the internet. I'm not sure how this blacklisting thing would be deployed, but your average person is just going to accept it and move on. Now, what if it blacklists something like Amazon or eBay? Would Amazon be able to sue someone over lost revenue because all the Joe I. Pod's out there stopped visiting their site all of a sudden? Especially if it was just a false positive.
As an afterthought, is there really a distinction between a false positive and a deterred attack? (Think Minority Report again, if you know your future you can avoid it.) Say you predict an attack and it doesn't happen, did you foil the attempt - the guys behind it gave up because everyone saw it coming - or was it just a false positive?

Re:Minority Report (1)

anhml (1621039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120621)

Hello, I am Anh Le, the second author of the work.

First, investigating the false positive is not the main focus of our work. We did our analysis on the log entries generated by the intrusion detection systems (IDS) deployed at various sites. Granted that there are false positives in the dataset, these false positives, however, are from the IDSs because of, for example, bad signatures and configuration errors. This is itself an area of active research.

Furthermore, the entries included in the blacklist appeared at least one time in the past. In other word, they are flagged as attackers at least once. Hence, they are not really innocent although, again, it's very possible that some of them are false positives.

Link to our paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/0908.2007 [arxiv.org]

Finally a use for this technology (2, Funny)

kabloom (755503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110795)

There's finally a use for this collaborative filtering technology.

Re:Finally a use for this technology (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110957)

Well, according to TFA it's not quite ready for prime time.

There are some potential problems to iron out. For example. the team isn't quite sure how to handle the constantly changing pattern of malicious attacks and malicious attackers may soon find that it's not too hard to fool recommendation systems if you try hard enough.

Re:Finally a use for this technology (1)

n9891q (863780) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111309)

I'm not so sure. How much gee-whiz collaborative filtering whiz-bang technology does one need to predict that a mention in Slashdot will produce an attack and outage? I bet their research shows Slashdotting in the top-10 attacks.

Re:Finally a use for this technology (1)

kabloom (755503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29115387)

If it doesn't, they won't have much of a website left after today.

Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29116159)

I have a facebook account.
Facebook gets cracked.
Consequently, Best Buy blocks my access to their ecommerce website because, as a facebook user, I'm potentially a cracker?

I'm so confused.

predictive blacklist of potential attackers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29110819)

Referer: slashdot.org

Oops. There goes another server. (No, TFA isn't slashdotted. Yet.)

Re:predictive blacklist of potential attackers... (1)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111695)

You may joke about it, but I wrote a "slashdotted" snort rule for a web development and hosting company.

Did I read this right... (4, Interesting)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110883)

recommendation systems may soon be providing you not only with books and movie tips but a happier surfing experience too

I am a little weary of making my surfing experience happier by allowing the system to do my thinking for me. Just think, "clippy" for the browser.

Re:Did I read this right... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111307)

weary (tired of) or wary (nervous about)?

Re:Did I read this right... (1)

Otter Popinski (1166533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111601)

Maybe leery.

Re:Did I read this right... (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 5 years ago | (#29112079)

DOH! Maybe I do need someone do to the thinking for me.

Re:Did I read this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111471)

>"clippy" for the browser

*Jumps out of Windows into Mac-random feline*

Re:Did I read this right... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111671)

sarcasm on

Yeah, and I'm pissed that I can't get Clippy working on Ubuntu!! The little dog in the search box too!! What, when you start to go geeky you can't have pets anymore? It's just WRONG, I tell you!! I'm going to send some hate mail to Canonical, and find out what the deal is. This just pisses me off!!

sarcasm off

Seriously - all those user agents and stuff should have been a tipoff. A corporation that offers cartoonish characters as part of a "serious" operating system can't be trusted with security.

Re:Did I read this right... (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#29121247)

recommendation systems may soon be providing you not only with books and movie tips but a happier surfing experience too

I am a little weary of making my surfing experience happier by allowing the system to do my thinking for me. Just think, "clippy" for the browser.

The article doesn't seem to say how it will be implemented, but I would assume it would be some server-side app that generates firewall (and possibly spam filter) rules.

Hoory Preemptive Blacklisting! (1)

DarkMage0707077 (1284674) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110897)

Great idea! Protect us from the presumed dangers of the internet! After all, such terms as "presumed innocence" are overrated and outdated terms anyway...

Umm... (2, Funny)

johanwanderer (1078391) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110917)

... wouldn't blocking people's access in advance considered an attack in and of itself? So the service should simply block itself off and be done with it.

Re:Umm... (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111133)

That, or go Skynet. The ideal way to stop all web attacks would be to bring down the internet itself. I so hope these guys did their homework [xkcd.com] .

the new 404 (2, Funny)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110931)

Were sorry but you have been labeled an Internet Terrorist, your search for "PC + Game + Cheats" is a flagged keyword.

"People..." (5, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29110971)

"People who attacked this site ALSO attacked..."

Re:"People..." (2, Funny)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111031)

"Was this review helpful? Yes or no"

Re:"People..." (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111071)

Amazon should patent "1-click attacking"

Re:"People..." (2, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111379)

Amazon should patent "1-click attacking"

Ptech [google.com] already has it patented!

Re:"People..." (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 5 years ago | (#29116473)

Not sure I get your Ptech link but it reminded me of something.

We used to get targetted many, many moons ago by people searching Google for "phpBB version x.y.z". If you want to predict web attacks, Google says:

Results 1 - 20 of about 80,600,000 for "phpbb version x.y.z"

Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29110993)

Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix have developed algorithms to mine vast databases looking for correlations that they then use to recommend new items.

I swear, if I see a "coorelationisnotcausation" tag by you slashbags, I'm turning in my AC card.

Yes, it's an insightful comment when used properly.

Please do not use it here, just because you saw the word correlation.

Re:Hrmm (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111185)

a "coorelationisnotcausation" tag

Thanks, I knew that there was a perfect tag for this story! Marking it as such allows two benefits which I can easily define:

  1. Just because a query originates from within an IP address block will not make it an attack. It's like assuming that someone from a bad neighborhood will steal from you.
  2. Whining about tags is just lame

The Article is obviously a fake (3, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111085)

Or greatly exaggerated...

"The team mined a database of hundreds of millions of security logs"

Nobody actually keeps security logs, certainly not hundreds of millions of somebodies.

The kind of people that DO keep security logs probably wouldn't hand them over either.

I call shenanigans

Re:The Article is obviously a fake (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111319)

Obviously they have developed hacking technology to break open all these systems to get at their logs to determain if they have been hacked. Well they will be blacklisting themselves later this afternoon.

Re:The Article is obviously a fake (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111793)

Yes, they worded that poorly.

Fixed:

The team mined a database of hundreds of millions of security log entries

Now it makes more sense, and is quite believable, no?

Re:The Article is obviously a fake (1)

anhml (1621039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120311)

Hello, I am Anh Le, the second author of the work. We analyzed the corpus of security logs that were collected by Dshield.org: "Dshield is a repository of firewall and intrusion detection logs collected at hundreds of different networks all over Internet. The participating networks contribute their logs, which are then converted into a common format that includes the following fields: time stamp, contributor ID, source IP address, destination IP address, source port number, destination port number, and protocol number." For more details, please take a look at our paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/0908.2007 [arxiv.org]

Stoopid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111097)

Heard the one about the hordes of people who will deliberately attempt to get public computers and corporate networks blacklisted?

Neither have these morons!

Next week, how to prevent network attacks by DOS'ing yourself.

False positives (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111101)

False positives, here we come...

Meatware needed (4, Insightful)

pheared (446683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111209)

This sounds great, but only if it requires human intervention to implement the block. I used to work in a NOC, and we would have loved to throw up a warning on the big screens that an attack is 80% likely from the following netblocks in the next N hours. That way we would have a strategy developed for defending before it even started and would be able to minimize downtime.

On the other hand, if you make this automatic you're going to piss off a lot of people very quickly because it's going to be wrong more often than you want.

Re:Meatware needed (2, Insightful)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111441)

Exactly. Because even if it's true, and it's 70% more accurate... I've yet to see a predictive system that's even remotely accurate. It may predict say... 50% of the sources of an ongoing attack (assuming a collaborative effort to determine when attacks are happening, and that you're not the first one hit), but that's far from enough to prevent a DDoS attack. And if you "accidentally" block... Say Canada (which I've seen before), then that's a LOT of costumers you just pissed off, but hey... Doesn't matter, that DDoS attack would have blocked access anyway, so how would they notice ;)

Re:Meatware needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111819)

And if you "accidentally" block... Say Canada (which I've seen before), then that's a LOT of costumers you just pissed off...

I can attest to this. The number of repertory companies and historical reenactment groups in Toronto alone is staggering.

False positives (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111259)

What about the people who are blacklisted unfairly? If the false positives are 1%, a huge number of servers will be blocked. This is the same problem with lie detectors and drug testing -- innocents get snared in the net. You need a way to confirm the positive, and not just blacklist based solely on this algorithm.

Re:False positives (1)

anhml (1621039) | more than 5 years ago | (#29120939)

Hello, I am Anh Le, the second author of the work.
I responded to the concern about false positives in one of the replies above. In brief, investigating the false positives is not the main focus of our work, and it is an area of active research in the intrusion detection system community.
Link to our paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/0908.2007 [arxiv.org] [arxiv.org]

ummmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29111285)

...Nerds

The Minority Report (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29111497)

Didn't anybody watch this? there have been other story lines along this genre, and it never works out, never, they always get the wrong person and it's used for evil.

Okay if your going to do this anyway, here let me gaze into my crystal ball. Blacklist China, North Korea, and major parts of Russia.

save your money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29112583)

no research needs to be done. just don't piss off 4chan.

Predictorator (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29112745)

Calculate the annoyance factor

If site is shitty, + .1
If site has a "clever" name, such as bit.ly, +.1
If site's name has become widely used as a verb or other part of speech, +.1
+ unique users in the last 24 hours / 100,000,000

Calculate the monetary factor

If site sells something, +.05
If site makes revenue through ads, +.05
If site is partnered or associated with a megacorp like a bank, ms/google, etc., +.1
+ dollars lost per minute of downtime (based on the last 24 hours) / 1,000,000

Calculate the brought it upon themselves factor

If site pissed off 4chan, +.2 * number offenses / time (in weeks) since last offense
If site pissed off other nerds, +.1 / time (in weeks) since last offense

Annoyance factor + Monetary factor + Brought it upon themselves factor = attack risk.

If attack risk >= 1, attack is imminent.
Otherwise, the attack risk is the probability of an attack occurring within the next 24 hours.

Never assume anything (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 5 years ago | (#29115881)

that is right, never assume anything. Assumption has caused more wars, fights, and upset in society than anything else. "Assuming something is the Weapon of Mass Destruction".

Sounds vageule familiar... (1)

Puppet Master (19479) | more than 5 years ago | (#29116905)

Sounds a lot like Minority Report [imdb.com] .

They *guess* that you may be guilty before it happens and blacklist you.

Does it also predict its own false positives? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29126907)

Great, so it can "predict" IP or site origins of malicious attacks, but can it also predict its own inevitable false positives? If so, how is it better than a DNSBL or other blacklist, except that it can make money for its owners without requiring constant updating and the requisite human labor?

I'd hate to use an IP or own a site that it happened to incorrectly "predict" as the source of an impending-but-as-yet-not-real attack. They might as well compile a Minority Report against me. How would that be any better for me, as an innocent victim, than having my IP/site unfairly blacklisted by SORBS/Spamhaus/Spamcop?

sidreporter? (1)

sTeF (8952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29140363)

sidreporter [emergingthreats.net] could be used to gather such security logs more or less respecting privacy.
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