Document Type

Technical Report


Computer Science and Engineering

Publication Date






Technical Report Number



The importance of network security has grown tremendously and a collection of devices have been introduced, which can improve the security of a network. Network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) are among the most widely deployed such system; popular NIDS use a collection of signatures of known security threats and viruses, which are used to scan each packet's payload. Today, signatures are often specified as regular expressions; thus the core of the NIDS comprises of a regular expressions parser, such parsers are traditionally implemented as finite automata. Deterministic Finite Automata (DFA) are fast, therefore they are often desirable at high network link rates. DFA for the signatures, which are used in the current security devices, however require prohibitive amounts of memory, which limits their practical use. In this paper, we argue that the traditional DFA based NIDS has three main limitations: first they fail to exploit the fact that normal data streams rarely match any virus signature; second, DFAs are extremely inefficient in following multiple partially matching signatures and explodes in size, and third finite automaton are incapable of efficiently keeping track of counts. We propose mechanisms to solve each of these drawbacks and demonstrate that our solutions can implement a NIDS much more securely and economically, and at the same time substantially improve the packet throughput.


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