Protecting against multi-step attacks of uncertain duration and timing forces
defenders into an indefinite, always ongoing, resource-intensive response. To
effectively allocate resources, a defender must be able to analyze multi-step
attacks under assumption of constantly allocating resources against an
uncertain stream of potentially undetected attacks. To achieve this goal, we
present a novel methodology that applies a game-theoretic approach to the
attack, attacker, and defender data derived from MITRE’s ATT&CK Framework. Time
to complete attack steps is drawn from a probability distribution determined by
attacker and defender strategies and capabilities. This constraints attack
success parameters and enables comparing different defender resource allocation
strategies. By approximating attacker-defender games as Markov processes, we
represent the attacker-defender interaction, estimate the attack success
parameters, determine the effects of attacker and defender strategies, and
maximize opportunities for defender strategy improvements against an uncertain
stream of attacks. This novel representation and analysis of multi-step attacks
enables defender policy optimization and resource allocation, which we
illustrate using the data from MITRE’s APT3 ATT&CK Evaluations.

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