Dark-TRACER: Early Detection Framework for Malware Activity Based on Anomalous Spatiotemporal Patterns

Chansu Han, Jun'Ichi Takeuchi, Takeshi Takahashi, Daisuke Inoue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


As cyberattacks become increasingly prevalent globally, there is a need to identify trends in these cyberattacks and take suitable countermeasures quickly. The darknet, an unused IP address space, is relatively conducive to observing and analyzing indiscriminate cyberattacks because of the absence of legitimate communication. Indiscriminate scanning activities by malware to spread their infections often show similar spatiotemporal patterns, and such trends are also observed on the darknet. To address the problem of early detection of malware activities, we focus on anomalous synchronization of spatiotemporal patterns observed in darknet traffic data. Our previous studies proposed algorithms that automatically estimate and detect anomalous spatiotemporal patterns of darknet traffic in real time by employing three independent machine learning methods. In this study, we integrated the previously proposed methods into a single framework, which we refer to as Dark-TRACER, and conducted quantitative experiments to evaluate its ability to detect these malware activities. We used darknet traffic data from October 2018 to October 2020 observed in our large-scale darknet sensors (up to /17 subnet scales). The results demonstrate that the weaknesses of the methods complement each other, and the proposed framework achieves an overall 100% recall rate. In addition, Dark-TRACER detects the average of malware activities 153.6 days earlier than when those malware activities are revealed to the public by reputable third-party security research organizations. Finally, we evaluated the cost of human analysis to implement the proposed system and demonstrated that two analysts can perform the daily operations necessary to operate the framework in approximately 7.3 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13038-13058
Number of pages21
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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