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Estimates of success rates of remote arbitrary code execution attacks
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Industrial Information and Control Systems.
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Industrial Information and Control Systems.
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Industrial Information and Control Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3922-9606
2012 (English)In: Information Management & Computer Security, ISSN 0968-5227, Vol. 20, no 2, 107-122 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify the importance of the factors that influence the success rate of remote arbitrary code execution attacks. In other words, attacks which use software vulnerabilities to execute the attacker's own code on targeted machines. Both attacks against servers and attacks against clients are studied. Design/methodology/approach: The success rates of attacks are assessed for 24 scenarios: 16 scenarios for server-side attacks and eight for client-side attacks. The assessment is made through domain experts and is synthesized using Cooke's classical method, an established method for weighting experts' judgments. The variables included in the study were selected based on the literature, a pilot study, and interviews with domain experts. Findings: Depending on the scenario in question, the expected success rate varies between 15 and 67 percent for server-side attacks and between 43 and 67 percent for client-side attacks. Based on these scenarios, the influence of different protective measures is identified. Practical implications: The results of this study offer guidance to decision makers on how to best secure their assets against remote code execution attacks. These results also indicate the overall risk posed by this type of attack. Originality/value: Attacks that use software vulnerabilities to execute code on targeted machines are common and pose a serious risk to most enterprises. However, there are no quantitative data on how difficult such attacks are to execute or on how effective security measures are against them. The paper provides such data using a structured technique to combine expert judgments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 20, no 2, 107-122 p.
Keyword [en]
Buffer overflows, Computer security, Computer software, Data management, Data security, Expert judgment, Information management, Remote code exploits, Software vulnerabilities
National Category
Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-79604DOI: 10.1108/09685221211235625ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84861873854OAI: diva2:495611
QC 20120802Available from: 2012-02-09 Created: 2012-02-09 Last updated: 2012-10-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A framework and theory for cyber security assessments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A framework and theory for cyber security assessments
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Information technology (IT) is critical and valuable to our society. An important type of IT system is Supervisor Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. These systems are used to control and monitor physical industrial processes like electrical power supply, water supply and railroad transport. Since our society is heavily dependent on these industrial processes we are also dependent on the behavior of our SCADA systems. SCADA systems have become (and continue to be) integrated with other IT systems they are thereby becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. Decision makers need to assess the security that a SCADA system’s architecture offers in order to make informed decisions concerning its appropriateness. However, data collection costs often restrict how much information that can be collected about the SCADA system’s architecture and it is difficult for a decision maker to know how important different variables are or what their value mean for the SCADA system’s security.

The contribution of this thesis is a modeling framework and a theory to support cyber security vulnerability assessments. It has a particular focus on SCADA systems. The thesis is a composite of six papers. Paper A describes a template stating how probabilistic relational models can be used to connect architecture models with cyber security theory. Papers B through E contribute with theory on operational security. More precisely, they contribute with theory on: discovery of software vulnerabilities (paper B), remote arbitrary code exploits (paper C), intrusion detection (paper D) and denial-of-service attacks (paper E). Paper F describes how the contribution of paper A is combined with the contributions of papers B through E and other operationalized cyber security theory. The result is a decision support tool called the Cyber Security Modeling Language (CySeMoL). This tool produces a vulnerability assessment for a system based on an architecture model of it.

Abstract [sv]

Informationsteknik (IT) är kritiskt och värdefullt för vårt samhälle. En viktig typ av IT-system är de styrsystem som ofta kallas SCADA-system (från engelskans "Supervisor Control And Data Acquisition"). Dessa system styr och övervakar fysiska industriella processer så som kraftförsörjning, vattenförsörjning och järnvägstransport. Eftersom vårt samhälle är beroende av dessa industriella processer så är vi också beroende av våra SCADA-systems beteende. SCADA-system har blivit (och fortsätter bli) integrerade med andra IT system och blir därmed mer sårbara för cyberhot. Beslutsfattare behöver utvärdera säkerheten som en systemarkitektur erbjuder för att kunna fatta informerade beslut rörande dess lämplighet. Men datainsamlingskostnader begränsar ofta hur mycket information som kan samlas in om ett SCADA-systems arkitektur och det är svårt för en beslutsfattare att veta hur viktiga olika variabler är eller vad deras värden betyder för SCADA-systemets säkerhet.

Bidraget i denna avhandling är ett modelleringsramverk och en teori för att stödja cybersäkerhetsutvärderingar. Det har ett särskilt focus på SCADA-system. Avhandlingen är av sammanläggningstyp och består av sex artiklar. Artikel A beskriver en mall för hur probabilistiska relationsmodeller kan användas för att koppla samman cybersäkerhetsteori med arkitekturmodeller. Artikel B till E bidrar med teori inom operationell säkerhet. Mer exakt, de bidrar med teori angående: upptäckt av mjukvarusårbarheter (artikel B), fjärrexekvering av godtycklig kod (artikel C), intrångsdetektering (artikel D) och attacker mot tillgänglighet (artikel E). Artikel F beskriver hur bidraget i artikel A kombineras med bidragen i artikel B till E och annan operationell cybersäkerhetsteori. Resultatet är ett beslutsstödsverktyg kallat Cyber Security Modeling Language (CySeMoL). Beslutsstödsverktyget producerar sårbarhetsutvärdering för ett system baserat på en arkitekturmodell av det.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. 42 p.
TRITA-EE, ISSN 1653-5146 ; 2012:43
cyber security, security assessment, vulnerability assessment, architecture modeling, enterprise architecture
National Category
Computer Systems
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-103690 (URN)978-91-7501-511-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-11-15, F3, Lindstedtvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20121018

Available from: 2012-10-18 Created: 2012-10-17 Last updated: 2014-02-11Bibliographically approved

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