ProTracer: Towards Practical Provenance Tracing by Alternating Between Logging and Tainting presented at NDSS 2016

by Dongyan Xu, Xiangyu Zhang, Shiqing Ma,

Summary : Provenance tracing is a very important approach to Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attack detection and investigation. Existing techniques either suffer from the dependence explosion problem or have non-trivial space and runtime overhead, which hinder their application in practice. We propose ProTracer, a lightweight provenance tracing system that alternates between system event logging and unit level taint propagation. The technique is built on an on-the-fly system event processing infrastructure that features a very lightweight kernel module and a sophisticated user space daemon that performs concurrent and out-of-order event processing. The evaluation on different real-world system workloads and a number of advanced attacks show that ProTracer only produces 13MB log data per day, and 0.84GB(Server)/2.32GB(Client) in 3 months without losing any important information. The space consumption is only < 1.28% of the state-of-the-art, 7 times smaller than an off-line garbage collection technique. The runtime overhead averages <7% for servers and <5% for regular applications. The generated attack causal graphs are a few times smaller than those by existing techniques while they are equally informative.