Detecting Malware-Infected Devices Using the HTTP Header Patterns

Sho MIZUNO  Mitsuhiro HATADA  Tatsuya MORI  Shigeki GOTO  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E101-D   No.5   pp.1370-1379
Publication Date: 2018/05/01
Publicized: 2018/02/08
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2017EDP7294
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Information Network
botnet detection,  malicious traffic,  HTTP header,  automatic template generation,  

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Damage caused by malware has become a serious problem. The recent rise in the spread of evasive malware has made it difficult to detect it at the pre-infection timing. Malware detection at post-infection timing is a promising approach that fulfills this gap. Given this background, this work aims to identify likely malware-infected devices from the measurement of Internet traffic. The advantage of the traffic-measurement-based approach is that it enables us to monitor a large number of endhosts. If we find an endhost as a source of malicious traffic, the endhost is likely a malware-infected device. Since the majority of malware today makes use of the web as a means to communicate with the C&C servers that reside on the external network, we leverage information recorded in the HTTP headers to discriminate between malicious and benign traffic. To make our approach scalable and robust, we develop the automatic template generation scheme that drastically reduces the amount of information to be kept while achieving the high accuracy of classification; since it does not make use of any domain knowledge, the approach should be robust against changes of malware. We apply several classifiers, which include machine learning algorithms, to the extracted templates and classify traffic into two categories: malicious and benign. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that our approach discriminates between malicious and benign traffic with up to 97.1% precision while maintaining the false positive rate below 1.0%.