Nav: Home

Defending against cyberattacks by giving attackers 'false hope'

January 28, 2019

With almost every online purchase, a person's personal information -- name, date of birth and credit card number -- is stored electronically often in the "cloud," which is a network of internet servers. Now, as more people buy from online businesses, researchers at the University of Missouri hope to employ a new strategy in the ongoing struggle to protect digital information in the cloud from targeted cyberattacks. The strategy establishes a new artificial intelligence system to combat digital intrusions.

"We are interested in the targeted attacks where the attacker is trying to exploit data or critical infrastructure resources, such as blocking data access, tampering facts or stealing data," said Prasad Calyam, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and the director of Cyber Education and Research Initiative in the MU College of Engineering. "Attackers are trying to use peoples' compromised resources to infiltrate their data without their knowledge, and these attacks are becoming increasingly significant because attackers are realizing they can make money in a big way like never before."

In this study, the researchers focused on two types of cyberattacks - those seeking customer data and those stealing resources such as bitcoins, a type of digital currency. Their strategy uses artificial intelligence techniques and psychology principles -- giving the cyberattacker false hope that the attack is working.

"Our 'defense by pretense' system quarantines the attacker and allows the cloud operators to buy time and build a stronger defense for their systems," Calyam said. "The quarantine is a decoy that behaves very similar to the real compromised target to keep the attacker assuming that the attack is still succeeding. In a typical cyberattack the more deeply attackers go in the system, the more they have the ability to go many directions. It becomes like a Whack-A-Mole game for those defending the system. Our strategy simply changes the game, but makes the attackers think they are being successful."

Researchers say buying time is important because it allows those directing the cyber resources to devise a more sophisticated defensive strategy to use at a later time when the cyber-attacker returns to make a more vigorous attack knowing that valuable assets are being defended.
-end-
The study "Intelligent defense using pretense against targeted attacks in cloud platforms," was published in Future Generation Computer Systems. Other researchers involved in the study were Roshan Lal Neupane, Travis Neely, Nishant Chettri and Mark Vassell from MU; and Ramakrishnan Durairajan from the University of Oregon. Funding was provided by a National Science Foundation Award (CNS-1205658). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Engineering Articles:

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.
Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.
Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.
New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.
Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.
Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.
Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.
What can snakes teach us about engineering friction?
If you want to know how to make a sneaker with better traction, just ask a snake.
Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme
Scientists have engineered an enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics, providing a potential solution to one of the world's biggest environmental problems.
A new way to do metabolic engineering
University of Illinois researchers have created a novel metabolic engineering method that combines transcriptional activation, transcriptional interference, and gene deletion, and executes them simultaneously, making the process faster and easier.
More Engineering News and Engineering Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.