Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version)

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

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Abstract

Existing penetration testing approaches assess the vulnerability of a system by determining whether certain attack paths are possible in practice. Therefore, penetration testing has thus far been used as a qualitative research method. To enable quantitative approaches to security risk management, including decision support based on the cost-effectiveness of countermeasures, one needs quantitative measures of the feasibility of an attack. Also, when physical or social attack steps are involved, the binary view on whether a vulnerability is present or not is insucient, and one needs some viability metric. When penetration tests are performed anyway, it is very easy for the testers to keep track of, for example, the time they spend on each attack step. Therefore, this paper proposes the concept of quantitative penetration testing to determine the diculty rather than the possibility of attacks. We do this by step-wise updates of expected time and probability of success for all steps in an attack scenario. Also, the skill of the testers can be included to improve the accuracy of the metrics, based on the framework of Item Response Theory (Elo ratings). We show the feasibility of the approach by means of simulations, and discuss application possibilities.
Original languageUndefined
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherCentre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Publication series

NameCTIT Technical Report Series
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
No.TR-CTIT-13-20
ISSN (Print)1381-3625

Keywords

  • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP7/2007-2013
  • Security Metrics
  • EWI-23863
  • IR-87631
  • METIS-300106
  • Socio-technical security
  • SCS-Cybersecurity
  • Item Response Theory
  • Penetration Testing
  • quantitative security
  • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP7/318003

Cite this

Arnold, F., Pieters, W., & Stoelinga, M. I. A. (2013). Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version). (CTIT Technical Report Series; No. TR-CTIT-13-20). Enschede: Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT).
Arnold, Florian ; Pieters, Wolter ; Stoelinga, Mariëlle Ida Antoinette. / Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version). Enschede : Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT), 2013. 11 p. (CTIT Technical Report Series; TR-CTIT-13-20).
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Arnold, F, Pieters, W & Stoelinga, MIA 2013, Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version). CTIT Technical Report Series, no. TR-CTIT-13-20, Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT), Enschede.

Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version). / Arnold, Florian; Pieters, Wolter; Stoelinga, Mariëlle Ida Antoinette.

Enschede : Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT), 2013. 11 p. (CTIT Technical Report Series; No. TR-CTIT-13-20).

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

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AU - Stoelinga, Mariëlle Ida Antoinette

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PY - 2013/10

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N2 - Existing penetration testing approaches assess the vulnerability of a system by determining whether certain attack paths are possible in practice. Therefore, penetration testing has thus far been used as a qualitative research method. To enable quantitative approaches to security risk management, including decision support based on the cost-effectiveness of countermeasures, one needs quantitative measures of the feasibility of an attack. Also, when physical or social attack steps are involved, the binary view on whether a vulnerability is present or not is insucient, and one needs some viability metric. When penetration tests are performed anyway, it is very easy for the testers to keep track of, for example, the time they spend on each attack step. Therefore, this paper proposes the concept of quantitative penetration testing to determine the diculty rather than the possibility of attacks. We do this by step-wise updates of expected time and probability of success for all steps in an attack scenario. Also, the skill of the testers can be included to improve the accuracy of the metrics, based on the framework of Item Response Theory (Elo ratings). We show the feasibility of the approach by means of simulations, and discuss application possibilities.

AB - Existing penetration testing approaches assess the vulnerability of a system by determining whether certain attack paths are possible in practice. Therefore, penetration testing has thus far been used as a qualitative research method. To enable quantitative approaches to security risk management, including decision support based on the cost-effectiveness of countermeasures, one needs quantitative measures of the feasibility of an attack. Also, when physical or social attack steps are involved, the binary view on whether a vulnerability is present or not is insucient, and one needs some viability metric. When penetration tests are performed anyway, it is very easy for the testers to keep track of, for example, the time they spend on each attack step. Therefore, this paper proposes the concept of quantitative penetration testing to determine the diculty rather than the possibility of attacks. We do this by step-wise updates of expected time and probability of success for all steps in an attack scenario. Also, the skill of the testers can be included to improve the accuracy of the metrics, based on the framework of Item Response Theory (Elo ratings). We show the feasibility of the approach by means of simulations, and discuss application possibilities.

KW - EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP7/2007-2013

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Arnold F, Pieters W, Stoelinga MIA. Quantitative penetration testing with item response theory (extended version). Enschede: Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT), 2013. 11 p. (CTIT Technical Report Series; TR-CTIT-13-20).