Improving Attack Graph Visualization through Data Reduction and Attack Grouping

  • John Homer
  • Ashok Varikuti
  • Xinming Ou
  • Miles A. McQueen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5210)

Abstract

Various tools exist to analyze enterprise network systems and to produce attack graphs detailing how attackers might penetrate into the system. These attack graphs, however, are often complex and difficult to comprehend fully, and a human user may find it problematic to reach appropriate configuration decisions. This paper presents methodologies that can 1) automatically identify portions of an attack graph that do not help a user to understand the core security problems and so can be trimmed, and 2) automatically group similar attack steps as virtual nodes in a model of the network topology, to immediately increase the understandability of the data. We believe both methods are important steps toward improving visualization of attack graphs to make them more useful in configuration management for large enterprise networks. We implemented our methods using one of the existing attack-graph toolkits. Initial experimentation shows that the proposed approaches can 1) significantly reduce the complexity of attack graphs by trimming a large portion of the graph that is not needed for a user to understand the security problem, and 2) significantly increase the accessibility and understandability of the data presented in the attack graph by clearly showing, within a generated visualization of the network topology, the number and type of potential attacks to which each host is exposed.

Keywords

attack graph attack graph visualization dominator graph clustering network security analysis 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Homer
    • 1
  • Ashok Varikuti
    • 1
  • Xinming Ou
    • 1
  • Miles A. McQueen
    • 2
  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Idaho National LaboratoryUSA

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