Adversarial co-evolution of attack and defense in a segmented computer network environment
July 15, 2018
Proc. Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conf. Companion, GECCO 2018, 15-19 July 2018, pp. 1648-1655.
In computer security, guidance is slim on how to prioritize or configure the many available defensive measures, when guidance is available at all. We show how a competitive co-evolutionary algorithm framework can identify defensive configurations that are effective against a range of attackers. We consider network segmentation, a widely recommended defensive strategy, deployed against the threat of serial network security attacks that delay the mission of the network's operator. We employ a simulation model to investigate the effectiveness over time of different defensive strategies against different attack strategies. For a set of four network topologies, we generate strong availability attack patterns that were not identified a priori. Then, by combining the simulation with a coevolutionary algorithm to explore the adversaries' action spaces, we identify effective configurations that minimize mission delay when facing the attacks. The novel application of co-evolutionary computation to enterprise network security represents a step toward course-of-action determination that is robust to responses by intelligent adversaries.