Flexible web visualization for alert-based network security analytics


L. Hao, C. G. Healey, S. E. Hutchinson
Proceedings Visualization for Cyber Security (VizSec '13), 2013, pp. 33-40

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Hao, L., Healey, C. G., & Hutchinson, S. E. (2013). Flexible web visualization for alert-based network security analytics (pp. 33–40).

Hao, L., C. G. Healey, and S. E. Hutchinson. “Flexible Web Visualization for Alert-Based Network Security Analytics.” In , 33–40, 2013.

Hao, L., et al. Flexible Web Visualization for Alert-Based Network Security Analytics. 2013, pp. 33–40.


This paper describes a web-based visualization system designed for network security analysts at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL). Our goal is to provide visual support to the analysts as they investigate security alerts for malicious activity within their systems. Our ARL collaborators identified a number of important requirements for any candidate visualization system. These relate to the analyst's mental models and working environment, and to the visualization tool's configurability, accessibility, scalability, and "fit" with existing analysis strategies. To meet these requirements, we designed and implement a web-based tool that uses different types of charts as its core representation framework. A JavaScript charting library (RGraph) was extended to provide the interface flexibility and correlation capabilities needed to support analysts as they explore different hypotheses about a potential attack. We describe key elements of our design, explain how an analyst's intent is used to generate different visualizations, and show how the system's interface allows an analyst to rapidly produce a sequence of visualizations to explore specific details about a potential attack as they arise. We conclude with a discussion of plans to further improve the system, and to collect feedback from our ARL colleagues on its strengths and limitations in real-world analysis scenarios.