Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Secure Is Your Network? New Program Points Out Vulnerabilities, Calculates Risk Of Attack

Date:
July 29, 2008
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Summary:
To help IT managers safeguard valuable information most efficiently, computer scientists are applying security metrics to computer network pathways to assign a probable risk of attack, calculating the most vulnerable points of attack.

The example illustrates three paths that an attacker can take to penetrate the network using FTP server, SSH server or database server.
Credit: NIST

Data breaches are a recurring nightmare for IT managers responsible for securing not only their company's confidential data, but possibly also sensitive information belonging to their clients, such as social security numbers or health or financial records.

To help managers safeguard valuable information most efficiently, computer scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are applying security metrics to computer network pathways to assign a probable risk of attack to guide IT managers in securing their networks.

"We analyze all of the paths that system attackers could penetrate through a network," says computer scientist Anoop Singhal, "and assign a risk to each component of the system. Decision makers can use our assigned probabilities to make wise decisions and investments to safeguard their network."

Computer networks are made up of components varying from individual computers, to servers and routers. Once inside a network's firewall, for a seemingly mild-mannered purpose as posting an image to a file transfer protocol (FTP) site, a hacker can travel through the network through a variety of routes to hit the jackpot of valuable data. In addition to hardware, the hacker can break in through software on the computers, especially file-sharing applications that have been blamed for some major data breaches recently.

NIST researchers evaluate each route and assign it a risk based on how challenging it is to the hacker. The paths are determined using a technique called "attack graphs." A new analysis technique based on attack graphs was jointly developed by Singhal and research colleagues at George Mason University. A patent is pending on the technique.

Singhal and his team determine risk by using these attack graphs and NIST's National Vulnerability Database (NVD). This government repository includes a collection of security-related software weaknesses that hackers can exploit. NVD data was collected from software vendors and scores are assigned from most to least insecure by experts.

For example in a simple system there is an attacker on a computer, a firewall, router, an FTP server and a database server. The goal for the attacker is to find the simplest path into the jackpot--the database server. Attack Graph Analysis determines three potential attack paths. For each path in the graph, the NIST researchers assign an attack probability based on the score in the NVD database.

Because it takes multiple steps to reach the goal, the probabilities of each component are multiplied to determine the overall risk. One path takes only three steps. The first step has an 80 percent chance of being hacked, the second, a 90 percent chance. The final step requires great expertise, so there is only a 10 percent probability it can be breached. By multiplying the three probabilities together, that path is pretty secure with a less than 10 percent chance of being hacked.

The next step is for the researchers to expand their research to handle large-scale enterprise networks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wang et al. An Attack Graph-Based Probabilistic Security Metric. Data and Applications Security XXII, 2008; 5094283 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-70567-3_22

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology. "How Secure Is Your Network? New Program Points Out Vulnerabilities, Calculates Risk Of Attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080723144710.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2008, July 29). How Secure Is Your Network? New Program Points Out Vulnerabilities, Calculates Risk Of Attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080723144710.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology. "How Secure Is Your Network? New Program Points Out Vulnerabilities, Calculates Risk Of Attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080723144710.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

AFP (Apr. 19, 2014) The Nintendo Game Boy celebrates its 25th anniversary Monday and game expert Stephen Upstone says the console can be credited with creating a trend towards handheld gaming devices. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) The Internet is taking important steps in patching the vulnerabilities Heartbleed highlighted, but those preventive measures carry their own costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins