Security Countermeasure Selection as a Constraint Solving Problem

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för datavetenskap och medieteknik (DM)

Abstract: Network systems often contain vulnerabilities that remain unmitigated in a network for various reasons, such as lack of a patch and limited budget. Adversaries can exploit these existing vulnerabilities through different strategies. The attackers can use the existing vulnerabilities to gain capabilities that will enable them to reach their target goal. This thesis aims to find the most effective defense strategy that can defend against all discovered/known attack scenarios in attempt to secure the system's critical assets. Threat modeling is a well-known technique to find and assess vulnerabilities and threats in the system. Attack graphs are one of the common models used to illustrate and analyze attack scenarios. They provide a logical overview that illustrates how an attacker can combine multiple vulnerabilities to reach a specific part of the system. This project utilizes attack graphs, taking advantage of the causal relationship of their elements to formulate a Constraint Solving Problem, performs a number of analyses to define some constraints and objectives to select the most appropriate actions to be taken by the defender. This is achieved by addressing the security requirements and organization requirements for a given budget. The results show that the selected combination of countermeasures restricts all attack paths presented in the Logical attack graph. The countermeasures are be distributed on the most critical parts of a system and reduce the potential harm for several vulnerabilities rather than provide high protection to a few vulnerabilities. This approach aids in finding the most relevant way to protect system's assets based on the available budget.

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