Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and their distributed variant (DDoS) are major digital threats in today’s cyberspace. Defense mechanisms such as Intrusion Detection Systems aim at finding these and other malicious activities in network traffic. They predominantly use signature-based approaches to effectively detect intrusions. Unfortunately, constructing a database with signatures is very time-consuming and this approach can only find previously seen variants. Machine learning algorithms are known to be effective tools in detecting intrusions, but it has not been studied if they are also able to detect unseen variants. In this research, we study to what extent supervised learning algorithms are able to detect novel variants of application layer (D)DoS attacks. To be more precise, we focus on detecting HTTP attacks targeting a web server. The contributions of this research are as follows: we provide a procedure to create intrusion detection datasets combining information from the transport, network, and application layer to be directly used for machine learning purposes. We show that specific (D)DoS variants are successfully detected by binary classifiers learned to distinguish benign entries from another (D)DoS attack. Despite this result, we demonstrate that the performance of a classifier trained on detecting variant A and tested on finding variant B is not necessarily similar to its performance when trained on B and tested on A. At last, we show that using more types of (D)DoS attacks in the training set does not necessarily lead to a higher detection rate of unseen variants. Thus, selecting the right combination of a machine learning model with a (small) set of intrusions included in the training data can result in a higher novel intrusion detection rate.

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IARIA Congress 2022

van de Bijl, E.P, Klein, J.G, Pries, J, van der Mei, R.D, & Bhulai, S. (2022). Detecting Novel Variants of Application Layer (D)DoS Attacks using Supervised Learning. In IARIA Congress 2022: The 2022 IARIA Annual Congress on Frontiers in Science, Technology, Services, and Applications (pp. 25–31).