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Content based packet filtering in linux kernel using deterministic finite automata

Bilal, Tahir
In this thesis, we present a content based packet filtering Architecture in Linux using Deterministic Finite Automata and iptables framework. New generation firewalls and intrusion detection systems not only filter or inspect network packets according to their header fields but also take into account the content of payload. These systems use a set of signatures in the form of regular expressions or plain strings to scan network packets. This scanning phase is a CPU intensive task which may degrade network performance. Currently, the Linux kernel firewall scans network packets separately for each signature in the signature set provided by the user. This approach constitutes a considerable bottleneck to network performance. We implement a content based packet filtering architecture and a multiple string matching extension for the Linux kernel firewall that matches all signatures at once, and show that we are able to filter network traffic by consuming constant bandwidth regardless of the number of signatures. Furthermore, we show that we can do packet filtering in multi-gigabit rates.