Application Intrusion Detection

Author:Sielken, Robert, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia

Intrusion detection has traditionally been performed at the operating system (OS) level by comparing expected and observed system resource usage. OS intrusion detection systems (OS IDS) can only detect intruders, internal or external, who perform specific system actions in a specific sequence or those intruders whose behavior pattern statistically varies from a norm. Internal intruders are said to comprise at least fifty percent of intruders [ODS99], but OS intrusion detection systems are frequently not sufficient to catch such intruders since they neither significantly deviate from expected behavior, nor perform the specific intrusive actions because they are already legitimate users of the system. <P> We hypothesize that application specific intrusion detection systems can use the semantics of the application to detect more subtle, stealth-like attacks such as those carried out by internal intruders who possess legitimate access to the system and its data and act within their bounds of normal behavior, but who are actually abusing the system. To test this hypothesis, we developed two extensive case studies to explore what opportunities exist for detecting intrusions at the application level, how effectively an application intrusion detection system (AppIDS) can detect the intrusions, and the possibility of cooperation between an AppIDS and an OS IDS to detect intrusions. From the case studies, we were able to discern some similarities and differences between the OS IDS and AppIDS. In particular, an AppIDS can observe the monitored system with a higher resolution of observable entities than an OS IDS allowing tighter thresholds to be set for the AppIDS' relations that differentiate normal and anomalous behavior thereby improving the overall effectiveness of the IDS. <P> We also investigated the possibility of cooperation between an OS IDS and an AppIDS. From this exploration, we developed a high-level bi-directional communication interface in which one IDS could request information from the other IDS, which could respond accordingly. Finally, we explored a possible structure of an AppIDS to determine which components were generic enough to use for multiple AppIDS. Along with these generic components, we also explored possible tools to assist in the creation of an AppIDS.

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Source Citation:

Sielken, Robert. "Application Intrusion Detection." University of Virginia Dept. of Computer Science Tech Report (1999).

University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
Published Date: