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This paper develops parametric methods to detect network anomalies using only aggregate traffic statistics, in contrast to other works requiring flow separation, even when the anomaly is a small fraction of the total traffic. By adopting simple statistical models for anomalous and background traffic in the time domain, one can estimate model parameters in real time, thus obviating the need for a long training phase or manual parameter tuning. The proposed bivariate parametric detection mechanism (bPDM) uses a sequential probability ratio test, allowing for control over the false positive rate while examining the tradeoff between detection time and the strength of an anomaly. Additionally, it uses both traffic-rate and packet-size statistics, yielding a bivariate model that eliminates most false positives. The method is analyzed using the bit-rate signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) metric, which is shown to be an effective metric for anomaly detection. The performance of the bPDM is evaluated in three ways. First, synthetically generated traffic provides for a controlled comparison of detection time as a function of the anomalous level of traffic. Second, the approach is shown to be able to detect controlled artificial attacks over the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, campus network in varying real traffic mixes. Third, the proposed algorithm achieves rapid detection of real denial-of-service attacks as determined by the replay of previously captured network traces. The method developed in this paper is able to detect all attacks in these scenarios in a few seconds or less.
Date of Publication: April 2011