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Modeling Observability in Adaptive Systems to Defend Against Advanced Persistent Threats

Cody Kinneer, Ryan Wagner, Fei Fang, Claire Le Goues and David Garlan.

In In Proceedings of the 17th ACM-IEEE International Conference on Formal Methods and Models for Systems Design (MEMCODE\'19), San Diego, USA, 9-11 October 2019.

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Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are a particularly troubling challenge for software systems. The adversarial nature of the security domain, and APTs in particular, poses unresolved challenges to the design of self-* systems, such as how to defend against multiple types of attackers with different goals and capabilities. In this interaction, the observability of each side is an important and under-investigated issue in the self-* domain. We propose a model of APT defense that elevates observability as a first-class concern. We evaluate this model by showing how an informed approach that uses observability improves the defender’s utility compared to a uniform random strategy, can enable robust planning through sensitivity analysis, and can inform observability-related architectural design decisions.

Keywords: Science of Security, Self-adaptation.  
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