Deep Reinforcement Adversarial Learning against Botnet Evasion Attacks

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Apruzzese, G., Andreolini, M., Marchetti, M., Venturi, A., & Colajanni, M. (2020). Deep Reinforcement Adversarial Learning against Botnet Evasion Attacks. IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management, 17(4).

Publication type

Article in Scientific Journal


As cybersecurity detectors increasingly rely on machine learning mechanisms, attacks to these defenses escalate as well. Supervised classifiers are prone to adversarial evasion, and existing countermeasures suffer from many limitations. Most solutions degrade performance in the absence of adversarial perturbations; they are unable to face novel attack variants; they are applicable only to specific machine learning algorithms. We propose the first framework that can protect botnet detectors from adversarial attacks through Deep Reinforcement Learning mechanisms. It automatically generates realistic attack samples that can evade detection, and it uses these samples to produce an augmented training set for producing hardened detectors. In such a way, we obtain more resilient detectors that can work even against unforeseen evasion attacks with the great merit of not penalizing their performance in the absence of specific attacks. We validate our proposal through an extensive experimental campaign that considers multiple machine learning algorithms and public datasets. The results highlight the improvements of the proposed solution over the state-of-the-art. Our method paves the way to novel and more robust cybersecurity detectors based on machine learning applied to network traffic analytics.


Organizational Units

  • Institute of Information Systems
  • Hilti Chair for Data and Application Security

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