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An Active Splitter Architecture for Intrusion Detection and Prevention
January-March 2006 (vol. 3 no. 1)
pp. 31-44
State-of-the-art high-speed network intrusion detection and prevention systems are often designed using multiple intrusion detection sensors operating in parallel coupled with a suitable front-end load-balancing traffic splitter. In this paper, we argue that, rather than just passively providing generic load distribution, traffic splitters should implement more active operations on the traffic stream, with the goal of reducing the load on the sensors. We present an active splitter architecture and three methods for improving performance. The first is early filtering/forwarding, where a fraction of the packets is processed on the splitter instead of the sensors. The second is the use of locality buffering, where the splitter reorders packets in a way that improves memory access locality on the sensors. The third is the use of cumulative acknowledgments, a method that optimizes the coordination between the traffic splitter and the sensors. Our experiments suggest that early filtering reduces the number of packets to be processed by 32 percent, giving an 8 percent increase in sensor performance, locality buffers improve sensor performance by 10-18 percent, while cumulative acknowledgments improve performance by 50-90 percent. We have also developed a prototype active splitter on an IXP1200 network processor and show that the cost of the proposed approach is reasonable.

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Index Terms:
Network-level security and protection, network processors, intrusion detection and prevention.
Citation:
Konstantinos Xinidis, Ioannis Charitakis, Spiros Antonatos, Kostas G. Anagnostakis, Evangelos P. Markatos, "An Active Splitter Architecture for Intrusion Detection and Prevention," IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 31-44, Jan.-March 2006, doi:10.1109/TDSC.2006.6
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