Innovative machine learning techniques for security detection problems

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2009
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Most of the currently available network security techniques cannot cope with the dynamic and increasingly complex nature of the attacks on distributed computer systems. Therefore, an automated and adaptive defensive tool is imperative for computer networks. Alongside the existing techniques for preventing intrusions such as encryption and firewalls, Intrusion Detection System (IDS) technology has established itself as an emerging field that is able to detect unauthorized access and abuse of computer systems from both internal users and external offenders. Most of the novel approaches in this field have adopted Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) to improve detection performance. The true power and advantage of ANN lie in its ability to represent both linear and non-linear underlying functions and learn these functions directly from the data being modeled. However, ANN is computationally expensive due to its demanding processing power and this leads to the overfitting problem, i.e. the network is unable to extrapolate accurately once the input is outside of the training data range. These limitations challenge security systems with low detection rate, high false alarm rate and excessive computation cost. In this research, a novel Machine Learning (ML) algorithm is developed to alleviate those difficulties of conventional detection techniques used in available IDS. By implementing Adaptive Boosting and Semi-parametric radial-basis-function neural networks, this model aims at minimizing learning bias (how well the model fits the available sample data) and generalization variance (how stable the model is for unseen instances) at an affordable cost of computation. The proposed method is applied to a set of Security Detection Problems which aim to detect security breaches within computer networks. In particular, we consider two benchmarking problems: intrusion detection and anti-spam filtering. It is empirically shown that our technique outperforms other state-of-the-art predictive algorithms in both of the problems, with significantly increased detection accuracy, minimal false alarms and relatively low computation.
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