Improving Botnet Detection with Recurrent Neural Network and Transfer Learning [article]

Jeeyung Kim, Alex Sim, Jinoh Kim, Kesheng Wu, Jaegyoon Hahm
<span title="2021-04-26">2021</span> <i > arXiv </i> &nbsp; <span class="release-stage" >pre-print</span>
Botnet detection is a critical step in stopping the spread of botnets and preventing malicious activities. However, reliable detection is still a challenging task, due to a wide variety of botnets involving ever-increasing types of devices and attack vectors. Recent approaches employing machine learning (ML) showed improved performance than earlier ones, but these ML- based approaches still have significant limitations. For example, most ML approaches can not incorporate sequential pattern
more &raquo; ... sis techniques key to detect some classes of botnets. Another common shortcoming of ML-based approaches is the need to retrain neural networks in order to detect the evolving botnets; however, the training process is time-consuming and requires significant efforts to label the training data. For fast-evolving botnets, it might take too long to create sufficient training samples before the botnets have changed again. To address these challenges, we propose a novel botnet detection method, built upon Recurrent Variational Autoencoder (RVAE) that effectively captures sequential characteristics of botnet activities. In the experiment, this semi-supervised learning method achieves better detection accuracy than similar learning methods, especially on hard to detect classes. Additionally, we devise a transfer learning framework to learn from a well-curated source data set and transfer the knowledge to a target problem domain not seen before. Tests show that the true-positive rate (TPR) with transfer learning is higher than the RVAE semi-supervised learning method trained using the target data set (91.8% vs. 68.3%).
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">arXiv:2104.12602v1</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:cxo37mdyavhxllftslowvfktrq</a> </span>
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