Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2013

DOI

10.3233/JCS-130475

Abstract

Quantifying security risk is an important and yet difficult task in enterprise network security man- agement. While metrics exist for individual software vulnerabilities, there is currently no standard way of aggregating such metrics. We present a model that can be used to aggregate vulnerability metrics in an enterprise network, producing quantitative metrics that measure the likelihood breaches can occur within a given network configuration. A clear semantic model for this aggregation is an important first step toward a comprehensive network security metric model. We utilize existing work in attack graphs and apply probabilistic reasoning to produce an aggregation that has clear semantics and sound com- putation. We ensure that shared dependencies between attack paths have a proportional effect on the final calculation. We correctly reason over cycles, ensuring that privileges are evaluated without any self-referencing effect. We introduce additional modeling artifacts in our probabilistic graphical model to capture and account for hidden correlations among exploit steps. The paper shows that a clear semantic model for aggregation is critical in interpreting the results, calibrating the metric model, and explaining insights gained from empirical evaluation. Our approach has been rigorously evaluated using a number of network models, as well as data from production systems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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