Date of Award

1-12-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ying Zhu - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Saeid Belkasim

Third Advisor

Dr. G. Scott Owen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Raheem Beyah

Abstract

Network security visualization is a relatively new field and is quickly gaining momentum. Network security visualization allows the display and projection of the network or system data, in hope to efficiently monitor and protect the system from any intrusions or possible attacks. Intrusions and attacks are constantly continuing to increase in number, size, and complexity. Textually reading through log files or other textual sources is currently insufficient to secure a network or system. Using graphical visualization, security information is presented visually, and not only by text. Without network security visualization, reading through log files or other textual sources is an endless and aggravating task for network security analysts. Visualization provides a method of displaying large volume of information in a relatively small space. It also makes patterns easier to detect, recognize, and analyze. This can help security experts to detect problems that may otherwise be missed in reading text based log files. Network security visualization has become an active research field in the past six years and a large number of visualization techniques have been proposed. A comprehensive analysis of the existing techniques is needed to help network security designers make informed decisions about the appropriate visualization techniques under various circumstances. Moreover, a taxonomy of the existing visualization techniques is needed to classify the existing network security visualization techniques and present a high level overview of the field. In this thesis, the author surveyed the field of network security visualization. Specifically, the author analyzed the network security visualization techniques from the perspective of data model, visual primitives, security analysis tasks, user interaction, and other design issues. Various statistics were generated from the literatures. Based on this analysis, the author has attempted to generate useful guidelines and principles for designing effective network security visualization techniques. The author also proposed a taxonomy for the security visualization techniques. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first attempt to generate a taxonomy for network security visualization. Finally, the author evaluated the existing network security visualization techniques and discussed their characteristics and limitations. For future research, the author also discussed some open research problems in this field. This research is a step towards a thorough analysis of the problem space and the solution space in network security visualization.

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