Generating Fake Cyber Threat Intelligence Using Transformer-Based Models

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Cyber-defense systems are being developed to automatically ingest Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) that contains semi-structured data and/or text to populate knowledge graphs. A potential risk is that fake CTI can be generated and spread through Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) communities or on the Web to effect a data poisoning attack on these systems. Adversaries can use fake CTI examples as training input to subvert cyber defense systems, forcing the model to learn incorrect inputs to serve their malicious needs. In this paper, we automatically generate fake CTI text descriptions using transformers. We show that given an initial prompt sentence, a public language model like GPT-2 with fine-tuning, can generate plausible CTI text with the ability of corrupting cyber-defense systems. We utilize the generated fake CTI text to perform a data poisoning attack on a Cybersecurity Knowledge Graph (CKG) and a cybersecurity corpus. The poisoning attack introduced adverse impacts such as returning incorrect reasoning outputs, representation poisoning, and corruption of other dependent AI-based cyber defense systems. We evaluate with traditional approaches and conduct a human evaluation study with cybersecurity professionals and threat hunters. Based on the study, professional threat hunters were equally likely to consider our fake generated CTI as true.


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University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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