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Enhancing Network Visibility and Security through Tensor Analysis

Muthu M. Baskaran, Thomas Henretty, James Ezick, Richard Lethin, David Bruns-Smith
02/25/2019
Publication Source: Elsevier, Future Generation Computer Systems Volume 96, July 2019, Pages 207-215

The increasing size, variety, rate of growth and change, and complexity of network data has warranted advanced network analysis and services. Tools that provide automated analysis through traditional or advanced signature-based systems or machine learning classifiers suffer from practical difficulties. These tools fail to provide comprehensive and contextual insights into the network when put to practical use in operational cyber security. In this paper, we present an effective tool for network security and traffic analysis that uses high-performance data analytics based on a class of unsupervised learning algorithms called tensor decompositions. The tool aims to provide a scalable analysis of the network traffic data and also reduce the cognitive load of network analysts and be network-expert-friendly by presenting clear and actionable insights into the network.

In this paper, we demonstrate the successful use of the tool in two completely diverse operational cyber security environments, namely, (1) security operations center (SOC) for the SCinet network at SC16 - The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis and (2) Reservoir Labs’ Local Area Network (LAN). In each of these environments, we produce actionable results for cyber security specialists including (but not limited to) (1) finding malicious network traffic involving internal and external attackers using port scans, SSH brute forcing, and NTP amplification attacks, (2) uncovering obfuscated network threats such as data exfiltration using DNS port and using ICMP traffic, and (3) finding network misconfiguration and performance degradation patterns.

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