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Application stress testing Achieving cyber security by testing cyber attacks

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4 Author(s)
Underbrink, A. ; Sentar, Inc., Huntsville, AL, USA ; Potter, A. ; Jaenisch, H. ; Reifer, D.J.

Application stress testing applies the concept of computer network penetration testing to software applications. Since software applications may be attacked - from inside or outside a protected network boundary - they are threatened by actions and conditions which cause delays, disruptions, or failures. Stress testing exposes software systems to simulated cyber attacks, revealing potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their implementation. By using such testing, these internal weaknesses and vulnerabilities can be discovered earlier in the software development life cycle, corrected prior to deployment, and lead to improved software quality. Application stress testing is a process and software prototype for verifying the quality of software applications under severe operating conditions. Since stress testing is rarely - if at all - performed today, the possibility of deploying critical software systems that have been stress tested provides a much stronger indication of their ability to withstand cyber attacks. Many possible attack vectors against critical software can be verified as true threats and mitigated prior to deployment. This improves software quality and serves as a tremendous risk reduction for critical software systems used in government and commercial enterprises. The software prototype models and verifies failure conditions of a system under test (SUT). The SUT is first executed in a virtual environment and its normal operational modes are observed. A normal behavior model is generated in order to predict failure conditions based on attack models and external SUT interfaces. Using off-the-shelf software tools, the predictions are verified in the virtual environment by stressing the executing SUT with attacks against the SUT. Results are presented to testers and system developers for dispensation or mitigation.

Published in:

Homeland Security (HST), 2012 IEEE Conference on Technologies for

Date of Conference:

13-15 Nov. 2012