skip to main content

Title: Modeling and Mitigating Security Threats in Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
By virtualizing proprietary hardware networking devices, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) allows agile and cost-effective deployment of diverse network services for multiple tenants on top of the same physical infrastructure. As NFV relies on virtualization, and as an NFV stack typically involves several levels of abstraction and multiple co-resident tenants, this new technology also unavoidably leads to new security threats. In this paper, we take the first step toward modeling and mitigating security threats unique to NFV. Specifically, we model both cross-layer and co-residency attacks on the NFV stack. Additionally, we mitigate such threats through optimizing the virtual machine (VM) placement with respect to given constraints. The simulation results demonstrate the effectiveness of our solution.
; ;
Singhal, A.; Vaidya, J.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 34th Annual IFIP WG 11.3 Conference on Data and Applications Security and Privacy (DBSec 2020)
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In the Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) era, it is critical to enable dynamic network access control. Traditionally, network access control policies are statically predefined as router entries or firewall rules. SDN enables more flexibility by re-actively installing flow rules into the switches to achieve dynamic network access control. However, SDN is limited in capturing network anomalies, which are usually important signs of security threats. In this paper, we propose to employ anomaly-based Intrusion Detection System (IDS) to capture network anomalies and generate SDN flow rules to enable dynamic network access control. We gain the knowledgemore »of network anomalies from anomaly-based IDS by training an interpretable model to explain its outcome. Based on the explanation, we derive access control policies. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach by explaining the outcome of an anomaly-based IDS built upon a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) and generating SDN flow rules based on our explanation.« less
  2. Network function virtualization (NFV) offers the potential for both enhancing service delivery flexibility and reducing overall costs by virtualizing network functions that are traditionally implemented in dedicated hardware. However, the flexibility of NFV comes with considerable compromises since virtual machine carried functions could introduce significant performance overhead. In this paper, we present a novel high-performance framework called HYPER, which combines programmable hardware infrastructure and traditional software infrastructure in NFV to achieve both high performance and flexibility for supporting virtualized network functions (VNFs). In HYPER, we design a mediator layer to hide underlying infrastructure heterogeneity from the NFV orchestrator to simplifymore »VNF management. In addition, we design a SLA-aware service chaining algorithm in HYPER to leverage the benefits of the hybrid infrastructure to fulfill both functional and performance requirements from service subscribers (or tenants). To optimize resource utilization efficiency, we also introduce a performance-aware VNF placement algorithm in HYPER, which accommodates both resource and performance requirements in placing VNFs. We implement HYPER in a testbed based on OpenStack and ONetCard. Experimental results show that HYPER reduces the forwarding latency of a service chain by 40% to 67% compared with data plane development kit -based implementation, while maintaining the flexibility of VNF management.« less
  3. Multiple vendors have recently released SmartNICs that provide both special-purpose accelerators and programmable processing cores that allow increasingly sophisticated packet processing tasks to be offloaded from general-purpose CPUs. Indeed, leading data-center operators have designed and deployed SmartNICs at scale to support both network virtualization and application-specific tasks. Unfortunately, cloud providers have not yet opened up the full power of these devices to tenants, as current runtimes do not provide adequate isolation between individual applications running on the SmartNICs themselves. We introduce FairNIC, a system to provide performance isolation between tenants utilizing the full capabilities of a commodity SoC SmartNIC. Wemore »implement FairNIC on Cavium LiquidIO 2360s and show that we are able to isolate not only typical packet processing, but also prevent MIPS-core cache pollution and fairly share access to fixed-function hardware accelerators. We use FairNIC to implement NIC-accelerated OVS and key/value store applications and show that they both can cohabitate on a single NIC using the same port, where the performance of each is unimpacted by other tenants. We argue that our results demonstrate the feasibility of sharing SmartNICs among virtual tenants, and motivate the development of appropriate security isolation mechanisms.« less
  4. At the core of Network Functions Virtualization lie Network Functions (NFs) that run co-resident on the same server, contend over its hardware resources and, thus, might suffer from reduced performance relative to running alone on the same hardware. Therefore, to efficiently manage resources and meet performance SLAs, NFV orchestrators need mechanisms to predict contention-induced performance degradation. In this work, we find that prior performance prediction frameworks suffer from poor accuracy on modern architectures and NFs because they treat memory as a monolithic whole. In addition, we show that, in practice, there exist multiple components of the memory subsystem that canmore »separately induce contention. By precisely characterizing (1) the pressure each NF applies on the server's shared hardware resources (contentiousness) and (2) how susceptible each NF is to performance drop due to competing contentiousness (sensitivity), we develop SLOMO, a multivariable performance prediction framework for Network Functions. We show that relative to prior work SLOMO reduces prediction error by 2-5x and enables 6-14% more efficient cluster utilization. SLOMO's codebase can be found at« less
  5. Auditing is a crucial component of network security practices in organizations with sensitive information such as banks and hospitals. Unfortunately, network function virtualization(NFV) is viewed as incompatible with auditing practices which verify that security functions operate correctly. In this paper, we bring the benefits of NFV to security sensitive environments with the design and implementation of AuditBox. AuditBox not only makes NFV compatible with auditing, but also provides stronger guarantees than traditional auditing procedures. In traditional auditing, administrators test the system for correctness on a schedule, e.g., once per month. In contrast, AuditBox continuously self-monitors for correct behavior, proving runtimemore »guarantees that the system remains in compliance with policy goals. Furthermore, AuditBox remains compatible with traditional auditing practices by providing sampled logs which still allow auditors to inspect system behavior manually. AuditBox achieves its goals by combining trusted execution environments with a lightweight verified routing protocol (VRP). Despite the complexity of service function chain routing policies relative to traditional routing, AuditBox's protocol introduces 72-80% fewer bytes of overhead per packet (in a 5-hop service chain) and provides at 61-67% higher goodput than prior work on VRPs designed for the Internet« less