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Title: SmartWatch: accurate traffic analysis and flow-state tracking for intrusion prevention using SmartNICs
Despite advances in network security, attacks targeting mission critical systems and applications remain a significant problem for network and datacenter providers. Existing telemetry platforms detect volumetric attacks at terabit scales using approximation techniques and coarse grain analysis. However, the prevalence of low and slow attacks that require very little bandwidth, makes flow-state tracking critical to overall attack mitigation. Traffic queries deployed on network switches are often limited by hardware constraints, preventing them from carrying out flow tracking features required to detect stealthy attacks. Such attacks can go undetected in the midst of high traffic volumes. We design SmartWatch, a novel flow state tracking and flow logging system at line rate, using SmartNICs to optimize performance and simultaneously detect a number of stealthy attacks. SmartWatch leverages advances in switch based network telemetry platforms to process the bulk of the traffic and only forward suspicious traffic subsets to the SmartNIC. The programmable network switches perform coarse-grained traffic analysis while the SmartNIC conducts the finer-grained analysis which involves additional processing of the packet as a 'bump-in-the-wire'. A control loop between the SmartNIC and programmable switch tunes the queries performed in the switch to direct the most appropriate traffic subset to the SmartNIC. SmartWatch's cooperative more » monitoring approach yields 2.39 times better detection rate compared to existing platforms deployed on programmable switches. SmartWatch can detect covert timing channels and perform website fingerprinting more efficiently compared to standalone programmable switch solutions, relieving switch memory and control-plane processor resources. Compared to host-based approaches, SmartWatch can reduce the packet processing latency by 72.32%. « less
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
CoNEXT '21: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
60 to 75
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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