Accession Number:

ADA439888

Title:

Evaluating and Strengthening Enterprise Network Security Using Attack Graphs

Descriptive Note:

Project rept.

Corporate Author:

MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH LEXINGTON LINCOLN LAB

Report Date:

2005-10-05

Pagination or Media Count:

87.0

Abstract:

Assessing the security of large enterprise networks is complex and labor intensive. Current security analysis tools typically examine only individual firewalls, routers, or hosts separately and do not comprehensively analyze overall network security. The authors present a new approach that uses configuration information on firewalls and vulnerability information on all network devices to build attack graphs that show how far inside and outside attackers can progress through a network by successively compromising exposed and vulnerable hosts. In addition, attack graphs are automatically analyzed to produce a small set of prioritized recommendations to enhance network security. Field trials on networks with up to 3,400 hosts demonstrate the ability to accurately identify a small number of critical stepping-stone hosts that need to be patched to protect against external attackers. Simulation studies on complex networks with more than 40,000 hosts demonstrate good scaling. This analysis can be used for many purposes, including identifying critical stepping-stone hosts to patch or protect with a firewall, comparing the security of alternative network designs, determining the security risk caused by proposed changes in firewall rules or new vulnerabilities, and identifying the most critical hosts to patch when a new vulnerability is announced. Unique aspects of this work are new attack graph generation algorithms that scale to enterprise networks with thousands of hosts, efficient approaches to determine what other hosts and ports in large networks are reachable from each individual host, automatic data importation from network vulnerability scanners and firewalls, and automatic attack graph analyses to generate recommendations.

Subject Categories:

  • Computer Systems
  • Computer Systems Management and Standards
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE