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Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity

Intrusion detection evaluation dataset (ISCXIDS2012)

In network intrusion detection (IDS), anomaly-based approaches in particular suffer from accurate evaluation, comparison, and deployment which originates from the scarcity of adequate datasets. Many such datasets are internal and cannot be shared due to privacy issues, others are heavily anonymized and do not reflect current trends, or they lack certain statistical characteristics. These deficiencies are primarily the reasons why a perfect dataset is yet to exist. Thus, researchers must resort to datasets which they can obtain that are often suboptimal.

As network behaviours and patterns change and intrusions evolve, it has very much become necessary to move away from static and one-time datasets toward more dynamically generated datasets which not only reflect the traffic compositions and intrusions of that time, but are also modifiable, extensible, and reproducible.

At ISCX, a systematic approach to generate the required datasets is introduced to address this need. The underlying notion is based on the concept of profiles which contain detailed descriptions of intrusions and abstract distribution models for applications, protocols, or lower level network entities. Real traces are analyzed to create profiles for agents that generate real traffic for HTTP, SMTP, SSH, IMAP, POP3, and FTP. In this regard, a set of guidelines is established to outline valid datasets, which set the basis for generating profiles. These guidelines are vital for the effectiveness of the dataset in terms of realism, evaluation capabilities, total capture, completeness, and malicious activity.

The profiles are then employed in an experiment to generate the desirable dataset in a testbed environment. Various multi-stage attacks scenarios were subsequently carried out to supply the anomalous portion of the dataset. The intend for this dataset is to assist various researchers in acquiring datasets of this kind for testing, evaluation, and comparison purposes, through sharing the generated datasets and profiles.

To simulate user behaviour, the behaviours of our Center's users were abstracted into profiles. Agents were then programmed to execute them, effectively mimicking user activity. Attack scenarios were then designed and executed to express real-world cases of malicious behavior. They were applied in real-time from physical devices via human assistance; therefore, avoiding any unintended characteristics of post-merging network attacks with real-time background traffic. The resulting arrangement has the obvious benefit of allowing the network traces to be labeled. This is believed to simplify the evaluation of intrusion detection systems and provide more realistic and comprehensive benchmarks.

The full research paper outlining the details of the dataset and its underlying principles:

The UNB ISCX 2012 Intrusion Detection Evaluation Data Set pocesses the following characteristics:

Realistic network and traffic: Ideally, a dataset should not exhibit any unintended properties, both network and traffic wise. This is to provide a clearer picture of the real effects of attacks over the network and the corresponding responses of workstations. For this reason, it is necessary for the traffic to look and behave as realistically as possible. This includes both normal and anomalous traffic. Any artificial post-capture trace insertion will negatively affect the raw data and introduce possible inconsistencies in the final dataset. Consequently, all such adjustments are highly discouraged.

Labeled dataset: A labeled dataset is of immense importance in the evaluation of various detection mechanisms. Hence, creating a dataset in a controlled and deterministic environment allows for the distinction of anomalous activity from normal traffic; therefore, eliminating the impractical process of manual labeling.

Total interaction capture: The amount of information available to detection mechanisms are of vital importance as this provides the means to detect anomalous behaviour. In other words, this information is essential for post-evaluation and the correct interpretation of the results. Thus, it is deemed a major requirement for a dataset to include all network interactions, either within or between internal LANs.

Complete capture: Privacy concerns related to sharing real network traces has been one of the major obstacles for network security researchers as data providers are often reluctant to share such information. Consequently, most such traces are either used internally, which limits other researchers from accurately evaluating and comparing their systems, or are heavily anonymized with the payload entirely removed resulting in decreased utility to researchers. In this work, the foremost objective is to generate network traces in a controlled testbed environment, thus completely removing the need for any sanitization and thereby preserving the naturalness of the resulting dataset.

Diverse intrusion scenarios: Attacks have increased in frequency, size, variety, and complexity in recent years. The scope of threats has also changed into more complex schemes, including service and application-targeted attacks. Such attacks can cause far more serious disruptions than traditional brute force attempts and also require a more in-depth insight into IP services and applications for their detection. Through executing attack scenarios and applying abnormal behaviour, the aim of this objective is to perform a diverse set of multistage attacks; each carefully crafted and aimed towards recent trends in security threats. This objective often labels many of the available datasets as ineffective and unfit for evaluating research results.

The UNB ISCX IDS 2012 dataset consists of labeled network traces, including full packet payloads in pcap format, which along with the relevant profiles are publicly available for researchers. For more information, contact

The UNB ISCX 2012 intrusion detection evaluation dataset consists of the following 7 days of network activity (normal and malicious):

Day, Date, Description, Size (GB)

  • Friday, 11/6/2010, Normal Activity. No malicious activity, 16.1
  • Saturday, 12/6/2010, Normal Activity. No malicious activity, 4.22
  • Sunday, 13/6/2010, Infiltrating the network from inside + Normal Activity, 3.95
  • Monday, 14/6/2010, HTTP Denial of Service + Normal Activity, 6.85
  • Tuesday, 15/6/2010, Distributed Denial of Service using an IRC Botnet, 23.4
  • Wednesday, 16/6/2010, Normal Activity. No malicious activity, 17.6
  • Thursday, 17/6/2010, Brute Force SSH + Normal Activity, 12.3