Active Defense via a Labyrinth of Deception

by Nathaniel Quist

A network baseline allows for the identification of malicious activity in real time. However, a baseline requires that every listed action is known and accounted, presenting a nearly impossible task in any production environment due to an ever-changing application footprint, system and application updates, changing project requirements, and not least of all, unpredictable user behaviors. Each obstacle presents a significant challenge in the development and maintenance of an accurate and false positive free network baseline. To surmount these hurdles, network architects need to design a network free from continuous change including, changing company requirements, untested systems or application updates, and the presence of unpredictable users. Creating a static, never-changing environment is the goal. However, this completely removes the functionality of a production network. Or does it?

Within this paper, I will detail how this type of static environment, referred to as the Labyrinth, can be placed in front of a production environment and provide real time defensive measures against hostile and dispersed attacks, from both human actors and automated machines. I expect to prove the Labyrinth is capable of detecting changes in its environment in real time. It will provide a listing of dynamic defensive capabilities like identifying attacking IP addresses, rogue-process start commands, modifications to registry values, alterations in system memory and recording the movements of an attacker’s tactics, techniques, and procedures. At the same time, the Labyrinth will add these values to block list, protecting the production network lying behind. Successful accomplishment of these goals will prove the viability and sustainability of a Labyrinth defending network (Revelle, 2011) environments.

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