Master’s thesis: Automated vulnerability detection and response in the network perimeter

The long-standing cooperation between Greenbone AG and the University of Osnabrück has once again resulted in a successful master’s thesis.

Under the title “Development of an Automated Network Perimeter Threat Prevention System (DETERRERS)”, Nikolas Wintering wrote his master’s thesis in the Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science working group of the Department of Mathematics/Computer Science at the University of Osnabrück, developing a system for automated threat prevention at the network perimeter of a university campus network.

Particularly at risk: universities

Universities are vibrant centers of information exchange and collaboration; with their numerous hosts and a multitude of services, they offer a large attack surface for cyber threats. It is therefore enormously important for educational institutions to identify vulnerable points and automatically isolate them from the internet.

Automated vulnerability management

By automating the interactions between administrators, vulnerability scanners, and perimeter firewalls, administrators are thus supported in their work, and the university IT network is protected. Part of the system developed in the master’s thesis is also the automation of the risk assessment of the vulnerability scan results and the generation of host-based firewall configurations.

“Through the use of DETERRERS and the associated adaptation of the release processes, the security in the university network could be massively improved with very little additional effort for administrators. With the automated mitigation, it is also possible to react to new threats at short notice and thus quickly close a potential new attack surface without long manual runtimes.”
Eric Lanfer, M. Sc. (Osnabrück Computing Center, Networks Group)

Practical application and a free demonstrator

Based on a practical application in a campus network, Wintering evaluates how the risk assessment works, how the attack surface is reduced, and what effects the system has on the work of administrators. In the process, a demonstrator was also created, whose source code and functionality can be viewed and tested by interested parties on GitHub. In the long term, a continuation as an open-source project is planned.

“This is a very successful work with clear added value for practice. Making efficient security mechanisms usable in everyday life is often a big challenge, and this master’s thesis makes very convincing contributions to this.”
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Nils Aschenbruck (University of Osnabrück, Institute of Computer Science, Distributed Systems Group)

Greenbone: experts for universities and more

Greenbone has been supplying numerous customers in the university environment with vulnerability management products for many years. Thanks to this extensive experience, we have always been able to identify and collect industry-specific requirements and incorporate them into the further development of our products.

The University of Osnabrück uses the Greenbone Enterprise Appliance 450, and we very much welcome the fact that this solution has now become part of a master’s thesis. We congratulate Nikolas Wintering on this successful scientific evaluation.