Carnegie Mellon University
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Towards Attack-Agnostic Defenses

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journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by David Brumley, Dawn Song
Internet attackers control hundreds of thousands to perhaps millions of computers, which they can use for a variety of different attacks. Common attacks include spam delivery, phishing, and DDoS. The current research community focus is on defenses for each specific attack type compromised hosts may launch. However, attack-specific approaches almost always have two fundamental drawbacks: they do not address the root problem that attackers control an army of compromised hosts, and they do not provide the right incentives for users to properly secure their machines. As a result, attack-specific defenses may be defeated by new attacks, even those that may be only slightly different from old attacks. We argue researchers should also focus on attack-agnostic defenses whose effectiveness does not depend on the particular attack type. We initiate this line of research by investigating the design space for attack-agnostic defenses, and then detailing two extreme points within the design space: an InternetWatch List and an Internet Reputation System.




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