Information-Based Heavy Hitters for Real-Time DNS Data Exfiltration Detection and Prevention

Yarin Ozery, Asaf Nadler, Asaf Shabtai

arXiv preprint arXiv:2307.02614, 2023

Data exfiltration over the DNS protocol and its detection have been researched extensively in recent years. Prior studies focused on offline detection methods, which although capable of detecting attacks, allow a large amount of data to be exfiltrated before the attack is detected and dealt with. In this paper, we introduce Information-based Heavy Hitters (ibHH), a real-time detection method which is based on live estimations of the amount of information transmitted to registered domains. ibHH uses constant-size memory and supports constant-time queries, which makes it suitable for deployment on recursive DNS servers to further reduce detection and response time. In our evaluation, we compared the performance of the proposed method to that of leading state-of-the-art DNS exfiltration detection methods on real-world datasets comprising over 250 billion DNS queries. The evaluation demonstrates ibHH’s ability to successfully detect exfiltration rates as slow as 0.7B/s, with a false positive alert rate of less than 0.004, with significantly lower resource consumption compared to other methods.