Insider Threat Detection in PRODIGAL

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Goldberg, Henry; Young, William; Reardon, Matthew; Phillips, Brian; Senator, Ted
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This paper reports on insider threat detection research, during which a prototype system (PRODIGAL) was developed and operated as a testbed for exploring a range of detection and analysis methods. The data and test environment, system components, and the core method of unsupervised detection \ of insider threat leads are presented to document this work and benefit others working in the insider threat domain. \ \ We also discuss a core set of experiments evaluating the prototype’s ability to detect both known and unknown malicious insider behaviors. The experimental results show the ability to detect a large variety of insider threat scenario instances imbedded in real data with no prior knowledge of what scenarios \ are present or when they occur. \ \ We report on an ensemble-based, unsupervised technique for detecting potential insider threat instances. When run over 16 months of real monitored computer usage activity augmented with independently developed and unknown but realistic, insider threat scenarios, this technique robustly achieves results within five percent of the best individual detectors identified after the fact. We discuss factors that contribute to the success of the ensemble method, such as the number and variety of unsupervised detectors and the use of prior knowledge encoded in detectors designed for specific activity patterns. \ \ Finally, the paper describes the architecture of the prototype system, the environment in which we conducted these experiments and that is in the process of being transitioned to operational users.