A Discretized Extended Feature Space (DEFS) Model to Improve the Anomaly Detection Performance in Network Intrusion Detection Systems

Roberto Saia, Salvatore Carta, Diego Recupero, Gianni Fenu, Maria Stanciu

Abstract

The unbreakable bond that exists today between devices and network connections makes the security of the latter a crucial element for our society. For this reason, in recent decades we have witnessed an exponential growth in research efforts aimed at identifying increasingly efficient techniques able to tackle this type of problem, such as the Intrusion Detection System (IDS). If on the one hand an IDS plays a key role, since it is designed to classify the network events as normal or intrusion, on the other hand it has to face several well-known problems that reduce its effectiveness. The most important of them is the high number of false positives related to its inability to detect event patterns not occurred in the past (i.e. zero-day attacks). This paper introduces a novel Discretized Extended Feature Space (DEFS) model that presents a twofold advantage: first, through a discretization process it reduces the event patterns by grouping those similar in terms of feature values, reducing the issues related to the classification of unknown events; second, it balances such a discretization by extending the event patterns with a series of meta-information able to well characterize them. The approach has been evaluated by using a real-world dataset (NSL-KDD) and by adopting both the in-sample/out-of-sample and time series cross-validation strategies in order to avoid that the evaluation is biased by over-fitting. The experimental results show how the proposed DEFS model is able to improve the classification performance in the most challenging scenarios (unbalanced samples), with regard to the canonical state-of-the-art solutions.

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