In this research, we analyze the effect of lightweight syntactical feature extraction techniques from the field of information retrieval for log abstraction in information security. To this end, we evaluate three feature extraction techniques and three clustering algorithms on four different security datasets for anomaly detection. Results demonstrate that these techniques have a role to play for log abstraction in the form of extracting syntactic features which improves the identification of anomalous minority classes, specifically in homogeneous security datasets.
Funding statement: This research was enabled by the support of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance Grant and 2Keys Corporation.
About the authors
Rafael Copstein graduated Bachelor of Computer Science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) – Brazil – in 2019, as first of his class as recognized by the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC). In that same year, he was awarded a scholarship at Dalhousie University – Canada – to pursue a Master’s Degree in Computer Science under the supervision of Dr. Nur Zincir-Heywood in the area of Computer Networks. In 2021, as an invitation from his supervisor, he upgraded his degree into a Ph. D. in Computer Science. Shortly after, he was awarded the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship (NSGS) due to the relevance of his research to the province of Nova Scotia and due to his academic achievements.
Egil Karlsen is a Masters of Computer Science student at Dalhousie University. He received his Bachelor of Computer Science with First Class Honors from Dalhousie University where he performed research in the area of vulnerability analysis, authentication and authorization services specifically in the OAuth protocol. Research interests include applications of machine learning in cyber security.
Jeff Schwartzentruber holds the position of Principal Data Scientist and Research Lead at 2Keys Corporation. Dr. Schwartzentruber received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Ryerson University with a focus on analytical process modelling and is a fellow of the Ontario Centre of Excellence. In his role at 2Keys, Dr. Schwartzentruber is responsible for the continued development, innovation and leadership of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities at the intersection of identity and access management, advanced threat analytics and response, and managed security services. Jeff’s research interests include machine learning (particularly deep learning and boosted trees), real-time anomaly detection, and analytical/semi-empirical model development for security and business applications.
Nur Zincir-Heywood is a University Research Professor and a Professor of Computer Science at Dalhousie University. Her research interests include machine learning for cyber security, network and service analysis. She has published over 200 fully reviewed papers and has been a recipient of multiple best paper awards. She serves as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management and Wiley International Journal of Network Management. She also promotes information communication technologies to wider audiences as a tech columnist for CBC Information Morning and a Board Member on CS-Can/INFO-Can.
Malcolm Heywood is a Professor of Computer Science at Dalhousie University, Canada. He has a particular interest in the use of machine learning to discover of simple solutions to complex tasks. His research with the tangled program graph algorithm resulted in a silver medal at the 2018 Humies Competition. Dr. Heywood is a member of the editorial board for Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines (Springer). He was a track co-chair for the ACM GECCO GP track in 2014 and a co-chair for European Conference on Genetic Programming in 2015 and 2016 and a co-chair for the ACM GECCO GECH track in 2021 and 2022.
The first author gratefully acknowledges the support by the province of Nova Scotia. The research is conducted as part of the Dalhousie NIMS Lab at: https://projects.cs.dal.ca/projectx/.
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