Cyberattacks studied through the lens of EEG and eye tracking

 

This Research was presented at the 22nd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security take places in Denver, Colorado, US on October 12-16, 2015

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have conducted a study that provides new insights on users' susceptibility to, and capability to detect, cyber-criminal attacks such as malware and phishing attacks. The study analyzed users' brain activity and eye gaze movements as they were subjected to these attacks. This new research was presented at the 2015 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security last week in Denver. This study from researchers within the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Computer and Information Sciences and Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research was based on the knowledge that detecting malware and phishing attacks are user-centered functions, but little is understood about the user behavior underlying these tasks. There is some prior knowledge on this topic regarding users' performance in these security tasks, but UAB's research took the work to the next level by studying users in a near-reality setting and evaluating more than one neurophysiological measure during a single study.

Researchers took a three-dimensional approach to this study by looking at what the users' task performance was through evaluating how they process the tasks of detecting cyberattacks with neural activity, which was captured using electroencephalogram, or EEG, cognitive metrics and with eye gaze patterns, which were captured using an eye-tracker.

The evaluation process tested users on phishing attacks, which use malicious email to collect personal and financial information, as well as Web-based malware attacks, which deploy software to infect computers with viruses while users browse the Web.