Applying long short-term memory recurrent neural networks to intrusion detection

Ralf C. Staudemeyer


We claim that modelling network traffic as a time series with a supervised learning approach, using known genuine and malicious behaviour, improves intrusion detection. To substantiate this, we trained long short-term memory (LSTM) recurrent neural networks with the training data provided by the DARPA / KDD Cup ’99 challenge.

To identify suitable LSTM-RNN network parameters and structure we experimented with various network topologies. We found networks with four memory blocks containing two cells each offer a good compromise between computational cost and detection performance. We applied forget gates and shortcut connections respectively. A learning rate of 0.1 and up to 1,000 epochs showed good results.

We tested the performance on all features and on extracted minimal feature sets respectively. We evaluated different feature sets for the detection of all attacks within one network and also to train networks specialised on individual attack classes. Our results show that the LSTM classifier provides superior performance in comparison to results previously published results of strong static classifiers. With 93.82% accuracy and 22.13 cost, LSTM outperforms the winning entries of the KDD Cup ’99 challenge by far. This is due to the fact that LSTM learns to look back in time and correlate consecutive connection records. For the first time ever, we have demonstrated the usefulness of LSTM networks to intrusion detection.


long short-term memory, recurrent neural network, KDD Cup ’99, intrusion detection systems, machine learning, time series analysis, receiver operating characteristic

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