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Machine Learning and Security by David Freeman, Clarence Chio

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Chapter 2. Classifying and Clustering

In this chapter, we discuss the most useful machine learning techniques for security applications. After covering some of the basic principles of machine learning, we offer up a toolbox of machine learning algorithms that you can choose from when approaching any given security problem. We have tried to include enough detail about each technique so that you can know when and how to use it, but we do not attempt to cover all the nuances and complexities of the algorithms.

This chapter has more mathematical detail than the rest of the book; if you want to skip the details and begin trying out the techniques, we recommend you read the sections “Machine Learning in Practice: A Worked Example” and “Practical Considerations in Classification” and then look at a few of the most popular supervised and unsupervised algorithms: logistic regression, decision trees and forests, and k-means clustering.

Machine Learning: Problems and Approaches

Suppose that you are in charge of computer security for your company. You install firewalls, hold phishing training, ensure secure coding practices, and much more. But at the end of the day, all your CEO cares about is that you don’t have a breach. So, you take it upon yourself to build systems that can detect and block malicious traffic to any attack surface. Ultimately, these systems must decide the following:

  • For every file sent through the network, does it contain malware?

  • For every login attempt, has someone’s ...

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