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Unsupervised network anomaly detection

Johan Mazel 1
LAAS - Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes
Abstract : Anomaly detection has become a vital component of any network in today's Internet. Ranging from non-malicious unexpected events such as flash-crowds and failures, to network attacks such as denials-of-service and network scans, network traffic anomalies can have serious detrimental effects on the performance and integrity of the network. The continuous arising of new anomalies and attacks create a continuous challenge to cope with events that put the network integrity at risk. Moreover, the inner polymorphic nature of traffic caused, among other things, by a highly changing protocol landscape, complicates anomaly detection system's task. In fact, most network anomaly detection systems proposed so far employ knowledge-dependent techniques, using either misuse detection signature-based detection methods or anomaly detection relying on supervisedlearning techniques. However, both approaches present major limitations: the former fails to detect and characterize unknown anomalies (letting the network unprotected for long periods) and the latter requires training over labeled normal traffic, which is a difficult and expensive stage that need to be updated on a regular basis to follow network traffic evolution. Such limitations impose a serious bottleneck to the previously presented problem. We introduce an unsupervised approach to detect and characterize network anomalies, without relying on signatures, statistical training, or labeled traffic, which represents a significant step towards the autonomy of networks. Unsupervised detection is accomplished by means of robust data-clustering techniques, combining Sub-Space clustering with Evidence Accumulation or Inter-Clustering Results Association, to blindly identify anomalies in traffic flows. Correlating the results of several unsupervised detections is also performed to improve detection robustness. The correlation results are further used along other anomaly characteristics to build an anomaly hierarchy in terms of dange rousness. Characterization is then achieved by building efficient filtering rules to describe a detected anomaly. The detection and characterization performances and sensitivities to parameters are evaluated over a substantial subset of the MAWI repository which contains real network traffic traces. Our work shows that unsupervised learning techniques allow anomaly detection systems to isolate anomalous traffic without any previous knowledge. We think that this contribution constitutes a great step towards autonomous network anomaly detection. This PhD thesis has been funded through the ECODE project by the European Commission under the Framework Programme 7. The goal of this project is to develop, implement, and validate experimentally a cognitive routing system that meet the challenges experienced by the Internet in terms of manageability and security, availability and accountability, as well as routing system scalability and quality. The concerned use case inside the ECODE project is network anomaly detection.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 10:16:40 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 4, 2022 - 3:24:28 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 2:25:22 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-00667654, version 1


Johan Mazel. Unsupervised network anomaly detection. Networking and Internet Architecture [cs.NI]. INSA de Toulouse, 2011. English. ⟨tel-00667654⟩



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