MEERKATS is a novel architecture for cloud environments that elevates continuous system evolution, adaptation, and misdirection as first-rate design principles. Our goal is to enable an environment for cloud services that constantly changes along several dimensions, toward creating an unpredictable target for an adversary. This unpredictability will both impede the adversary’s ability to achieve an initial system compromise and, if a compromise occurs, to detect, disrupt, and/or otherwise impede his ability to exploit this success. Thus, we envision an environment where cloud services and data are constantly in flux, using adaptive (both proactive and reactive) protection mechanisms and distributed monitoring at various levels of abstraction. MEERKATS will effectively exploit “economies of scale” (in resources available) to provide higher flexibility and effectiveness in the deployment and use of protection mechanisms as and where needed, focusing on current and anticipated mission needs instead of an inefficient, “blanket” approach to protecting “everything, all the time” at the same level of intensity.

This work is supported by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through Contract FA8650-11-C-7190. Opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Government, or DARPA.