Security Analysis of Online Centroid Anomaly Detection

Marius Kloft, Pavel Laskov; 13(Dec):3681−3724, 2012.


Security issues are crucial in a number of machine learning applications, especially in scenarios dealing with human activity rather than natural phenomena (e.g., information ranking, spam detection, malware detection, etc.). In such cases, learning algorithms may have to cope with manipulated data aimed at hampering decision making. Although some previous work addressed the issue of handling malicious data in the context of supervised learning, very little is known about the behavior of anomaly detection methods in such scenarios. In this contribution, we analyze the performance of a particular method---online centroid anomaly detection---in the presence of adversarial noise. Our analysis addresses the following security-related issues: formalization of learning and attack processes, derivation of an optimal attack, and analysis of attack efficiency and limitations. We derive bounds on the effectiveness of a poisoning attack against centroid anomaly detection under different conditions: attacker's full or limited control over the traffic and bounded false positive rate. Our bounds show that whereas a poisoning attack can be effectively staged in the unconstrained case, it can be made arbitrarily difficult (a strict upper bound on the attacker's gain) if external constraints are properly used. Our experimental evaluation, carried out on real traces of HTTP and exploit traffic, confirms the tightness of our theoretical bounds and the practicality of our protection mechanisms.


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