Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are difficult to detect due to their low-and-slow attack patterns and frequent use of zero-day exploits. We present UNICORN, an anomaly-based APT detector that effectively leverages data provenance analysis. From modeling to detection, UNICORN tailors its design specifically for the unique characteristics of APTs. Through extensive yet time-efficient graph analysis, UNICORN explores provenance graphs that provide rich contextual and historical information to identify stealthy anomalous activities without pre-defined attack signatures. Using a graph sketching technique, it summarizes long-running system execution with space efficiency to combat slow-acting attacks that take place over a long time span. UNICORN further improves its detection capability using a novel modeling approach to understand long-term behavior as the system evolves. Our evaluation shows that UNICORN outperforms an existing state-of-the-art APT detection system and detects real-life APT scenarios with high accuracy.
Identifying the root cause and impact of a system intrusion remains a foundational challenge in computer security. Digital provenance provides a detailed history of the flow of information within a computing system, connecting suspicious events to their root causes. Although existing provenance-based auditing techniques provide value in forensic analysis, they assume that such analysis takes place only retrospectively. Such post-hoc analysis is insufficient for realtime security applications; moreover, even for forensic tasks, prior provenance collection systems exhibited poor performance and scalability, jeopardizing the timeliness of query responses.
We present CamQuery, which provides inline, realtime provenance analysis, making it suitable for implementing security applications. CamQuery is a Linux Security Module that offers support for both userspace and in-kernel execution of analysis applications. We demonstrate the applicability of CamQuery to a variety of runtime security applications including data loss prevention, intrusion detection, and regulatory compliance. In evaluation, we demonstrate that CamQuery reduces the latency of realtime query mechanisms, while imposing minimal overheads on system execution. CamQuery thus enables the further deployment of provenance-based technologies to address central challenges in computer security.
Data provenance describes how data came to be in its present form. It includes data sources and the transformations that have been applied to them. Data provenance has many uses, from forensics and security to aiding the reproducibility of scientific experiments. We present CamFlow, a whole-system provenance capture mechanism that integrates easily into a PaaS offering. While there have been several prior whole-system provenance systems that captured a comprehensive, systemic and ubiquitous record of a system’s behavior, none have been widely adopted. They either A) impose too much overhead, B) are designed for long-outdated kernel releases and are hard to port to current systems, C) generate too much data, or D) are designed for a single system. CamFlow addresses these shortcoming by: 1) leveraging the latest kernel design advances to achieve efficiency; 2) using a self-contained, easily maintainable implementation relying on a Linux Security Module, NetFilter, and other existing kernel facilities; 3) providing a mechanism to tailor the captured provenance data to the needs of the application; and 4) making it easy to integrate provenance across distributed systems. The provenance we capture is streamed and consumed by tenant-built auditor applications. We illustrate the usability of our implementation by describing three such applications: demonstrating compliance with data regulations; performing fault/intrusion detection; and implementing data loss prevention. We also show how CamFlow can be leveraged to capture meaningful provenance without modifying existing applications.
In the last few decades, data-driven methods have come to dominate many fields of scientific inquiry. Open data and open-source software have enabled the rapid implementation of novel methods to manage and analyze the growing flood of data. However, it has become apparent that many scientific fields exhibit distressingly low rates of reproducibility. Although there are many dimensions to this issue, we believe that there is a lack of formalism used when describing end-to-end published results, from the data source to the analysis to the final published results. Even when authors do their best to make their research and data accessible, this lack of formalism reduces the clarity and efficiency of reporting, which contributes to issues of reproducibility. Data provenance aids both reproducibility through systematic and formal records of the relationships among data sources, processes, datasets, publications and researchers.