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Dr Tarik Ibrahim PhD

Research Student

Brief biographical information

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Improving Intrusion Prevention, Detection and Response

In the face of a wide range of attacks, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and other Internet security tools represent potentially valuable safeguards to identify and combat the problems facing online systems. However, despite the fact that a variety of commercial and open source solutions are available across a range of operating systems and network platforms, it is notable that the deployment of IDS is often markedly less than other well-known network security countermeasures and other tools may often be used in an ineffective manner.

This thesis considers the challenges that users may face while using IDS, by conducting a web-based questionnaire to assess these challenges. The challenges that are used in the questionnaire were gathered from the well-established literature. The participants responses varies between being with or against selecting them as challenges but all the listed challenges approved that they are consider problems in the IDS field.

The aim of the research is to propose a novel set of Human Computer Interaction-Security (HCI-S) usability criteria based on the findings of the web-based questionnaire. Moreover, these criteria were inspired from previous literature in the field of HCI. The novelty of the criteria is that they focus on the security aspects. The new criteria were promising when they were applied to Norton 360, a well known Internet security suite. Testing the alerts issued by security software was the initial step before testing other security software. Hence, a set of security software were selected and some alerts were triggered as a result of performing a penetration test conducted within a test-bed environment using the network scanner Nmap. The findings reveal that four of the HCI-S usability criteria were not fully addressed by all of these security software.

Another aim of this thesis is to consider the development of a prototype to address the HCI-S usability criteria that seem to be overlooked in the existing security solutions. The thesis conducts a practical user trial and the findings are promising and attempt to find a proper solution to solve this problem. For instance, to take advantage of previous security decisions, it would be desirable for a system to consider the user.s previous decisions on similar alerts, and modify alerts accordingly to account for the user.s previous behaviour. Moreover, in order to give users a level of flexibility, it is important to enable them to make informed decisions, and to be able to recover from them if needed. It is important to address the proposed criteria that enable users to confirm / recover the impact of their decision, maintain an awareness of system status all the time, and to offer responses that match users. expectations.

The outcome of the current study is a set of a proposed 16 HCI-S usability criteria that can be used to design and to assess security alerts issued by any Internet security suite. These criteria are not equally important and they vary between high, medium and low.

Dr Tarik Ibrahim

Director of studies: Prof Steven M Furnell
Other supervisors: Dr Maria Papadaki, Dr Nathan L Clarke

Conference papers

Assessing the Usability of End-User Security Software
Ibrahim T, Furnell SM, Papadaki M, Clarke NL
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 6264/2010, pp177-189, 2010
More details | External link available

Assessing the Usability of Personal Internet Security Tools
Ibrahim T, Furnell SM, Papadaki M, Clarke NL
8th European Conference on Information Warfare and Security (ECIW), Military Academy, Lisbon & the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, 6-7 July, 2009
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Assessing the challenges of Intrusion Detection Systems
Ibrahim T, Furnell SM, Papadaki M, Clarke NL
Proceedings of the 7th Security Conference, Las Vegas, USA, 2nd-3rd June, 2008
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3 Conference papers

3 publication(s) - all categories.