Modeling Network Intrusion Detection Alerts for Correlation


J. Zhou, M. Heckman, B. Reynolds, A. Carlson, and M. Bishop, “Modeling Network Intrusion Detection Alerts for Correlation,” ACM Transactions on Information and System Security 10(1) pp. 1–31 (Feb. 2007).


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Signature-based network intrusion-detection systems (NIDSs) often report a massive number of simple alerts of low-level security-related events. Many of these alerts are logically involved in a single multi-stage intrusion incident and a security officer often wants to analyze the complete incident instead of each individual simple alert. This paper proposes a well-structured model that abstracts the logical relation between the alerts in order to support automatic correlation of those alerts involved in the same intrusion. The basic building block of the model is a logical formula called a capability. We use capability to abstract consistently and precisely all levels of accesses obtained by the attacker in each step of a multistage intrusion. We then derive inference rules to define logical relations between different capabilities. Based on the model and the inference rules, we have developed several novel alert correlation algorithms and implemented a prototype alert correlator. The experimental results of the correlator using several intrusion datasets demonstrate that the approach is effective in both alert fusion and alert correlation and has the ability to correlate alerts of complex multistage intrusions. In several instances, the alert correlator successfully correlated more than two thousand Snort alerts involved in massive scanning incidents. It also helped us find two multistage intrusions that were missed in auditing by the security officers.

Bibliographic Information: [BibTeX] [EndNote]
DOI: 10.1145/1210263.1210267