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LINKING EXPLOITS FROM THE DARK WEB TO KNOWN VULNERABILITIES FOR PROACTIVE CYBER THREAT INTELLIGENCE: AN ATTENTION-BASED DEEP STRUCTURED SEMANTIC MODEL1
Black hat hackers use malicious exploits to circumvent security controls and take advantage of system vulnerabilities worldwide, costing the global economy over $450 billion annually. While many organizations are increasingly turning to cyber threat intelligence (CTI) to help prioritize their vulnerabilities, extant CTI processes are often criticized as being reactive to known exploits. One promising data source that can help develop proactive CTI is the vast and ever-evolving Dark Web. In this study, we adopted the computational design science paradigm to design a novel deep learning (DL)-based exploit-vulnerability attention deep structured semantic model (EVA-DSSM) that includes bidirectional processing and attention mechanisms to automatically link exploits from the Dark Web to vulnerabilities. We also devised a novel device vulnerability severity metric (DVSM) that incorporates the exploit post date and vulnerability severity to help cybersecurity professionals with their device prioritization and risk management efforts. We rigorously evaluated the EVA-DSSM against state-of-the-art non-DL and DL-based methods for short text matching on 52,590 exploit-vulnerability linkages across four testbeds: web application, remote, local, and denial of service. Results of these evaluations indicate that the proposed EVA-DSSM achieves precision at 1 scores 20% - 41% higher than non-DL approaches and 4% - 10% higher than DL-based more » Authors: ; ; Award ID(s): Publication Date: NSF-PAR ID: 10336823 Journal Name: MIS quarterly Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Page Range or eLocation-ID: 911-946 ISSN: 0276-7783 Sponsoring Org: National Science Foundation ##### More Like this 1. Black hat hackers use malicious exploits to circumvent security controls and take advantage of system vulnerabilities worldwide, costing the global economy over$450 billion annually. While many organizations are increasingly turning to cyber threat intelligence (CTI) to help prioritize their vulnerabilities, extant CTI processes are often criticized as being reactive to known exploits. One promising data source that can help develop proactive CTI is the vast and ever-evolving Dark Web. In this study, we adopted the computational design science paradigm to design a novel deep learning (DL)-based exploit-vulnerability attention deep structured semantic model (EVA-DSSM) that includes bidirectional processing and attention mechanisms to automatically link exploits from the Dark Web to vulnerabilities. We also devised a novel device vulnerability severity metric (DVSM) that incorporates the exploit post date and vulnerability severity to help cybersecurity professionals with their device prioritization and risk management efforts. We rigorously evaluated the EVA-DSSM against state-of-the-art non-DL and DL-based methods for short text matching on 52,590 exploit-vulnerability linkages across four testbeds: web application, remote, local, and denial of service. Results of these evaluations indicate that the proposed EVA-DSSM achieves precision at 1 scores 20%-41% higher than non-DL approaches and 4%-10% higher than DL-based approaches. We demonstrated themore »
2. Industrial control systems (ICS) include systems that control industrial processes in critical infrastructure such as electric grids, nuclear power plants, manufacturing plans, water treatment systems, pharmaceutical plants, and building automation systems. ICS represent complex systems that contain an abundance of unique devices all of which may hold different types of software, including applications, firmware and operating systems. Due to their ability to control physical infrastructure, ICS have more and more become targets of cyber-attacks, increasing the risk of serious damage, negative financial impact, disruption to business operations, disruption to communities, and even the loss of life. Ethical hacking represents one way to test the security of ICS. Ethical hacking consists of using a cyber-attacker's perspective and a variety of cybersecurity tools to actively discover vulnerabilities and entry points for potential cyber-attacks. However, ICS ethical hacking represents a difficult task due to the wide variety of devices found on ICS networks. Most ethical hackers do not hold expertise or knowledge about ICS hardware, device computing elements, protocols, vulnerabilities found on these elements, and exploits used to exploit these vulnerabilities. Effective approaches are needed to reduce the complexity of ICS ethical hacking tasks. In this study, we use ontology modeling, a knowledgemore »
3. (Ed.)
The implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in medical environments, has introduced a growing list of security vulnerabilities and threats. The lack of an extensible big data resource that captures medical device vulnerabilities limits the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based cyber defense systems in capturing, detecting, and preventing known and future attacks. We describe a system that generates a repository of Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) about various medical devices and their known vulnerabilities from sources such as manufacturer and ICS-CERT vulnerability alerts. We augment the intelligence repository with data sources such as Wikidata and public medical databases. The combined resources are integrated with threat intelligence in our Cybersecurity Knowledge Graph (CKG) from previous research. The augmented graph embeddings are useful in querying relevant information and can help in various AI assisted cybersecurity tasks. Given the integration of multiple resources, we found the augmented CKG produced higher quality graph representations. The augmented CKG produced a 31% increase in the Mean Average Precision (MAP) value, computed over an information retrieval task.
4. Cyber-defense systems are being developed to automatically ingest Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) that contains semi-structured data and/or text to populate knowledge graphs. A potential risk is that fake CTI can be generated and spread through Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) communities or on the Web to effect a data poisoning attack on these systems. Adversaries can use fake CTI examples as training input to subvert cyber defense systems, forcing the model to learn incorrect inputs to serve their malicious needs. In this paper, we automatically generate fake CTI text descriptions using transformers. We show that given an initial prompt sentence, a public language model like GPT-2 with fine-tuning, can generate plausible CTI text with the ability of corrupting cyber-defense systems. We utilize the generated fake CTI text to perform a data poisoning attack on a Cybersecurity Knowledge Graph (CKG) and a cybersecurity corpus. The poisoning attack introduced adverse impacts such as returning incorrect reasoning outputs, representation poisoning, and corruption of other dependent AI-based cyber defense systems. We evaluate with traditional approaches and conduct a human evaluation study with cybersecurity professionals and threat hunters. Based on the study, professional threat hunters were equally likely to consider our fake generated CTI as true.
5. Security patches in open source software (OSS) not only provide security fixes to identified vulnerabilities, but also make the vulnerable code public to the attackers. Therefore, armored attackers may misuse this information to launch N-day attacks on unpatched OSS versions. The best practice for preventing this type of N-day attacks is to keep upgrading the software to the latest version in no time. However, due to the concerns on reputation and easy software development management, software vendors may choose to secretly patch their vulnerabilities in a new version without reporting them to CVE or even providing any explicit description in their change logs. When those secretly patched vulnerabilities are being identified by armored attackers, they can be turned into powerful “0-day” attacks, which can be exploited to compromise not only unpatched version of the same software, but also similar types of OSS (e.g., SSL libraries) that may contain the same vulnerability due to code clone or similar design/implementation logic. Therefore, it is critical to identify secret security patches and downgrade the risk of those “0-day” attacks to at least “n-day” attacks. In this paper, we develop a defense system and implement a toolset to automatically identify secret security patches inmore »