March 29, 2023
Conference Paper

VWC-BERT: Scaling Vulnerability–Weakness–Exploit Mapping on Modern AI Accelerators


Defending cybersystems needs accurate mapping of software and hardware vulnerabilities to generalized descriptions of weaknesses, and weaknesses to exploits. These mappings enable cyber defenders to build plans for effective defense and assessment of potential risks to a cybersystem. With close to 170k vulnerabilities, manual mapping is not a feasible option. However, automated mapping is challenging due to limited training data, computational intractability, and limitations in computational natural language processing. Tools based on breakthroughs in Transformer-based language models have been demonstrated to classify vulnerabilities with high accuracy. We make three key contributions in this paper: (1) We present a new framework, \VWCBERT, that augments the Transformer-based hierarchical multi-class classification framework of Das et al. (\textsc{V2W-BERT}) with the ability to map weaknesses to exploits. (2) We implement \VWCBERT~ on modern AI accelerator platforms using two data parallel techniques for the pre-training phase and demonstrate nearly linear speedups across NVIDIA and Graphcore accelerator platforms. We observe nearly linear speedups for up to 16 V100 and 8 A100 GPUs, and about 3.4$\times$ speedup for A100 relative to V100 GPUs. We also observe excellent speedups on Graphcore, with $5.7\times$ speedup on 128 IPUs relative to 16 IPUs. Enabled by scaling, we also demonstrate higher accuracy using a larger language model, RoBERTa-Large. We show up to 87\% accuracy for strict and up to 98\% accuracy for relaxed classification. (3) We develop a novel parallel link manager for the link prediction phase and demonstrate up to 21$\times$ speedup with 16 V100 GPUs relative to one V100 GPU, and thus reducing the runtime from 2.5 hours to 10 minutes. We believe that generalizability and scalability of \VWCBERT~ will benefit both the theoretical development and practical deployment of novel cyberdefense solutions and vulnerability classification.

Published: March 29, 2023


Das S., M. Halappanavar, A. Tumeo, E. Serra, A. Pothen, and E. Al-Shaer. 2022. VWC-BERT: Scaling Vulnerability–Weakness–Exploit Mapping on Modern AI Accelerators. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data 2022), December 17-20, 2022, Osaka, Japan, 1224-1229. Piscataway, New Jersey:IEEE. PNNL-SA-170354. doi:10.1109/BigData55660.2022.10020622