York research collaboration to improve cybersecurity threat detection, mitigation

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York University’s Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center (BCCC) is advancing leadership in cybersecurity by collaborating with cPacket – a network monitoring company – to tackle a major cybercrime threat.

A significant challenge in cybercrime is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which cybercriminals flood an online server with internet traffic to prevent users from accessing connected services and sites. This usually results in a server’s total shutdown and inaccessibility.

Sometimes, institutions detect DDoS attacks after the damage has already been done or when they are too far underway to stop them. Recognizing the critical need for real-time detection to combat this cyberthreat, York’s BCCC and network monitoring company cPacket collaborated to develop a comprehensive solution to help cybersecurity researchers more effectively study and respond to DDoS attacks.

The result of this collaboration is a new dataset – a structured collection of data commonly used in fields such as machine learning, statistics and data science for tasks such as training models, conducting research or decision making – named BCCC-cPacket-Cloud-DDoS-2024. This DDoS attack-specific dataset was created to overcome a range of shortcomings among existing datasets.

Arash Habibi Lashkari portrait
Arash Habibi Lashkari; photo by Rob Blanchard.

“This collaboration between York University and cPacket marks a significant step forward in the fight against DDoS attacks, addressing critical gaps in existing datasets and paving the way for more effective detection and mitigation strategies,” says Professor Arash Habibi Lashkari, founder and director of BCCC at York. 

The newly developed dataset captures a diverse range of potential threat scenarios, providing researchers with a comprehensive set of situations to study and respond to.

Another crucial component is the dataset’s cloud infrastructure, which combines several computers, servers, switches and routers on a single platform. This makes it possible to create a system that can easily change in size and shape, simulating different kinds of network traffic and helping researchers to more easily mimic real-life scenarios, which is useful for testing new ways to find and stop cyberattacks.

“By providing a comprehensive dataset that reflects real-world network conditions, we aim to empower researchers and practitioners in the information technology security field to develop more robust and resilient cybersecurity solutions, ultimately making the digital world safer for everyone,” says Ron Nevo, cPacket’s chief technology officer. 

The new dataset also includes detailed information about network traffic, which allows researchers to more closely analyze the data and develop methods that use artificial intelligence to detect and classify different types of network activity.

“This collaboration represents a significant advancement in cybersecurity,” says Lashkari. “By addressing the shortcomings of existing datasets and providing a comprehensive solution for studying DDoS attacks, this project could result in the deployment of more resilient cybersecurity systems across various sectors, safeguarding critical infrastructure, businesses and individuals from evolving cyber threats.”

For more information about cybersecurity datasets, visit the Behaviour-Centric Cybersecurity Center website.