We exploit for defensive purposes the concept of darkports - the unused ports on active systems. We are particularly interested in such ports which transition to become active (i.e. become trans-darkports). Darkports are identified by passively observing and characterizing the connectivity behavior of internal hosts in a network as they respond to both legitimate connection attempts and scanning attempts. Darkports can be used to detect sophisticated scanning activity, enable fine-grained automated defense against automated malware attacks, and detect real-time changes in a network that may indicate a successful compromise. We show, in a direct comparison with Snort, that darkports offer a better scanning detection capability with fewer false positives and negatives. Our results also show that the network awareness gained by the use of darkports enables active response options to be safely focused exclusively on those systems that directly threaten the network.

23rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2007
School of Computer Science

Whyte, D. (David), Van Oorschot, P, & Kranakis, E. (2007). Tracking darkports for network defense. Presented at the 23rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2007. doi:10.1109/ACSAC.2007.48