June 15, 2021

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Using a Neural Network to Detect Anomalies given an N-gram Profile. (arXiv:2104.05571v2 [cs.CR] UPDATED)

In order to detect unknown intrusions and runtime errors of computer
programs, the cyber-security community has developed various detection
techniques. Anomaly detection is an approach that is designed to profile the
normal runtime behavior of computer programs in order to detect intrusions and
errors as anomalous deviations from the observed normal. However, normal but
unobserved behavior can trigger false positives. This limitation has
significantly decreased the practical viability of anomaly detection
techniques. Reported approaches to this limitation span a simple alert
threshold definition to distribution models for approximating all normal
behavior based on the limited observation. However, each assumption or
approximation poses the potential for even greater false positive rates. This
paper presents our study on how to explain the presence of anomalies using a
neural network, particularly Long Short-Term Memory, independent of actual data
distributions. We present and compare three anomaly detection models, and
report on our experience running different types of attacks on an Apache
Hypertext Transfer Protocol server. We performed a comparative study, focusing
on each model’s ability to detect the onset of each attack while avoiding false
positives resulting from unknown normal behavior. Our best-performing model
detected the true onset of every attack with zero false positives.