Signature-aware Traffic Monitoring with IPFIX 1

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1 Signature-aware Traffic Monitoring with IPFIX 1 Youngseok Lee, Seongho Shin, and Taeck-geun Kwon Dept. of Computer Engineering, Chungnam National University, 220 Gungdong Yusonggu, Daejon, Korea, {lee, shshin, Abstract. Traffic monitoring is essential for accounting user traffic and detecting anomaly traffic such as Internet worms or P2P file sharing applications. Since typical Internet traffic monitoring tools use only TCP/UDP/IP header information, they cannot effectively classify diverse application traffic, because TCP or UDP port numbers could be used by different applications. Moreover, under the recent deployment of firewalls that permits only a few allowed port numbers, P2P or other non-well-known applications could use the well-known port numbers. Hence, a port-based traffic measurement scheme may not provide the correct traffic monitoring results. On the other hand, traffic monitoring has to report not only the general statistics of traffic usage but also anomaly traffic such as exploiting traffic, Internet worms, and P2P traffic. Particularly, the anomaly traffic can be more precisely identified when packet payloads are inspected to find signatures. Regardless of correct packet-level measurement, flow-level measurement is generally preferred because of easy deployment and low-cost operation. In this paper, therefore, we propose a signature-aware flow-level traffic monitoring method based on the IETF IPFIX standard for the next-generation routers, where the flow format of monitoring traffic can be dynamically defined so that signature information could be included. Our experimental results show that the signature-aware traffic monitoring scheme based on IPFIX performs better than the traditional port-based traffic monitoring method. That is, hidden anomaly traffic with the same port number has been revealed. Keywords: signature, IPFIX, traffic measurement, flow, and security. 1 Introduction Traffic monitoring is essential for accounting normal user traffic and detecting anomaly traffic such as Internet worms or P2P file-sharing applications. In general, simple packet- or byte-counting methods with SNMP have been widely used for easy and simple network administration. However, as applications become diverse and 1 This research was supported by the MIC (Ministry of Information and Communication), Korea, under the ITRC (Information Technology Research Center) support program supervised by the IITA (Institute of Information Technology Assessment). (IITA-2005-(C ))

2 anomaly traffic appears quite often, more detailed classification of application traffic is necessary. Generally, traffic measurement at high-speed networks is challenging because of fast packet-processing requirement. Though packet-level measurement generates correct results, it is not easy to support high-speed line rates. In addition, standalone systems for packet-level traffic monitoring will be expensive for deployment and management in a large-scale network. Hence, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) generally prefer routers or switches that have already traffic monitoring functions to dedicated packet-level traffic monitoring systems. Recently, flow-level measurement methods at routers such as Cisco NetFlow [1] have become popular, because flowlevel measurement could generate useful traffic statistics with a significantly small amount of measurement data. Routers with high-speed line cards such as 1Gbps are supported by Cisco sampled NetFlow. Thus, the standard [2] for traffic monitoring of routers has been proposed by IETF IP Flow Information export (IPFIX) WG, which defines the flexible and extensible template architecture that can be useful for various traffic monitoring applications. For example, IPv6 traffic monitoring, intrusion detection, and QoS measurement have been possible with routers due to the flexible template structure of IPFIX, which cannot be done with NetFlow v5. Though flow-level traffic measurement is simple and easy for deployment, its measurement result may be incorrect, because only IP/TCP/UDP header fields are considered for traffic classification. Nowadays, due to firewalls that allow only wellknown TCP/UDP port numbers, user and applications tend to change the blocked port numbers to the allowed well-known port numbers. In addition, recent P2P applications have begun to use dynamic port numbers instead of fixed port numbers. Therefore, port-based traffic classification may result in wrong traffic measurement results. On the other hand, when the payloads of IP packets are inspected to find the application-specific signatures, the possibility of correct traffic classification is increasing. Currently, most of intrusion detection systems (IDSes) or intrusion protection systems (IPSes) are employing packet inspection methods for investigating anomaly traffic patterns. However, IDSes and IPSes are focusing on only finding the anomaly traffic pattern as soon as possible and generating the alert messages. In this paper, we aim at devising a flow-level traffic monitoring scheme that can utilize the signature information for the correct traffic measurement results while complying with the IPFIX standard. Thus, we propose a flow-level traffic monitoring method with extended IPFIX templates that can carry signatures for a flow. Our proposed method achieves the capability of correct traffic classification even at highspeed routers through examining the payload signatures as well as IP/TCP/UDP header fields. The proposed scheme towards correct and IPFIX-compliant flow-level traffic monitoring has been verified with real packet traces in a campus network. From the experiments it was shown that anomaly traffic hiding itself with the well-known ports could be detected and classified. In addition, we proposed an IPFIX-compliant template that has been extended for carrying signature identification values. The remaining paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the related work, and Section 3 explains the IPFIX-compliant signature-aware traffic measurement scheme. In Section4, we present the experimental results of the proposed method, and conclude this paper in Section 5.

3 2 Related Work Typically, flow-level traffic measurement was done with Cisco NetFlow. FlowScan [3], that generates and visualizes traffic with NetFlow, uses port numbers for classifying applications. However, port-based traffic classification methods may be incorrect, because port numbers could be used by other applications. Although packet-level traffic measurement [4] could generate more precise results, it is expensive and difficult to deploy in a large-scale network. In general, snort [5], which is a widely-used open IDS, can detect anomaly traffic such as Internet worms, viruses, or exploiting incidents including signatures. Thus, alert messages and logs are sent and recorded. However, the purpose of the IPS is to detect anomaly traffic. Recently, a few content-aware traffic monitoring methods [6][7] have been proposed. In [6], signatures were used to classify traffic for accounting, and it was shown that traffic of well-known ports includes that of non registered applications. However, it does not support IPFIX. In [7], various traffic classification methods including packet inspection have been compared, and it was explained that unknown traffic could be correctly identified through searching signatures of the first packet, the first a few Kbytes, a few packets, or all the packets of the flow. However, these two studies use their own proprietary architectures for traffic measurement. In this paper, we propose a signature-aware traffic monitoring scheme that employs the IPFIX standard which could be used by next-generation routers. 3 A Proposed Signature-aware Traffic Monitoring Method In this section, we explain the proposed signature-aware traffic monitoring method. 3.1 Architecture Figure 1. Signature-aware IPFIX traffic measurement architecture.

4 Figure 1 illustrates the key components of the signature-aware IPFIX traffic measurement architecture. Generally, the IPFIX device is embedded into routers or switches. However, a dedicated IPFIX device could be installed with capturing packets from the fiber tap or the mirrored port at a switch. The IPFIX collector gathers and analyzes IPFIX flows from multiple IPFIX devices through reliable transport protocols Flow classifier The flow classifier processes incoming packets with 5-tuples of IP/TCP/UDP header fields to find the corresponding flow entries stored at the flow table. If the flow entry corresponding to the incoming packet does not exist, a new flow entry will be created. Otherwise, attributes of the flow entry such as the number of packets, the number of bytes, the first/last flow update time, and etc. will be updated. A flow is defined by a sequence of packet streams sharing 5-tuples (source IP address, source port, destination IP address, destination port, protocol) of IP/TCP/UDP headers within a given timeout. A flow expiration timer is set to terminate a flow if a packet belonging to the same flow specification does not arrive within the timeout. Then, the expired flow entries will be exported to the flow collector. This flow idle timeout value can be configurable. For example, in our experiment, a flow idle timeout of 30 seconds was used as with Cisco routers. In addition to the flow idle timeout, another timer is required to finish and export long-lived flows residing at the flow table Signature inspector While packets are processed at the flow classifier, their payloads are simultaneously investigated by the signature inspector. The found signature will be recorded at the signature identification field of the corresponding flow entry. For this purpose, we defined a new IPFIX template with the signature identification field. A typical example of the signature inspector is snort that has signature identification values. In this paper, every single packet belonging to a flow is inspected for matching signatures. According to the given pattern-matching policy of inspecting packet payloads, it could be determined how many packets or bytes of a flow will be examined. Therefore, we can find signatures from the first K bytes, or the first K packets belonging to a flow. It is known that a single or the first few packets of a flow contain signatures of application protocols. For example, it is enough to examine a single packet for Internet worms consisting of a single packet, while the first packets should be investigated to find the patterns of P2P applications IPFIX-compliant flow exporter When flows are expired, the IPFIX-compliant flow exporter will send to the flow collector flow-exporting packets that contains flow information. Each flow entry includes data records according to the defined flow template. The flow template,

5 which will be sent to the flow collector before the flow data are exported, explains how a flow is organized with several fields. A typical IPFIX-compliant flow data record consists of 5-tuple of IP/TCP/UDP header fields, the number of bytes, the number of packets, the flow start time, the flow end time, and the value of signature ID. In IPFIX, communication between the flow exporter and the flow collector is done through reliable transport protocols such as Stream Control Transport Protocol (SCTP) or TCP IPFIX-compliant flow collector The flow collector receives the template and data record for flows and saves the flows. The flow collector can communicate with multiple flow exporters and can aggregate many flows into a simplified form of flows. Since a lot of flow data are continuously exported to the flow collector, a post-end database system is integrated with the flow collector for further analysis Flow analyzer with signatures as well as ports Given the flow data record, the flow analyzer classifies flows with the signatures as well as typical port numbers. Thus, signature ID s are important when flows are classified. For example, Internet worms or viruses, P2P traffic, and other anomaly traffic that carry signatures are easily classified due to signature ID s regardless of port numbers. In addition, though either a few P2P applications are employing dynamic port hopping, or non-http applications are using 80 port, they could be classified with their signatures. 3.2 IPFIX templates for carrying signatures Every IPFIX message consists of an IPFIX message header, a template set, and a data set (an option template set and option data set) as shown in Fig. 2. A template set defines how the data set is organized. A newly created template is sent through an IPFIX message consisting of interleaved template set and data set (option template set and option data set). After the template set has been delivered to the IPFIX collector, following IPFIX messages can be made up with only data sets. When UDP is used as the transport protocol, template records and option template records must be periodically sent. 2 Optionally, UDP may be used. Figure 2. IPFIX message.

6 We defined a new flow template set including the signature ID field 3 as shown in Fig. 3-(a). The FlowSet ID of 0 means that this flow is the template. Basically, the flow defined by the template in Fig. 3-(a) delivers bytes, packets, flow start/end time, and signature ID for a flow of (src IP, dst IP, src port, dst port, protocol). Here, we use the signature ID values same with snort. Therefore, if the signature inspector finds a signature, it will record the signature ID at this field. (a) IPFIX template set (b) IPFIX flow data set Figure 3. IPFIX template and flow data message format including signature ID. In Fig. 3-(b), the real example of the IPFIX data set which complies with the IPFIX template in Fig. 3-(a) is shown. The Template ID (=256) in Fig. 3-(a) and the FlowSet ID (=256) should be same if the flow data record is to be parsed according to the given template set. The web flow between and has 3,482 bytes, 5 packets, and the signature ID of 1855 which is related with the DDoS attack. Generally, in a single flow packet, more than one flow data set will be contained. 4 Experiments 4.1 Prototype of a signature-aware traffic monitoring tool In order to evaluate the signature-aware traffic monitoring method, we implemented the prototype with snort and IPFIX-compliant flow generator, nprobe [8]. The prototype generates IPFIX flows according to the pre-defined flow template that includes signatures inspected by snort. For the IPFIX collector, we developed a real-time flow collector that can analyze the flows with signature ID. 3 The type of the signature ID is defined to 200 and the length of the signature ID is 2 bytes.

7 4.2 Experimental results We verified the proposed signature-aware traffic monitoring method with packet traces in Table 1 collected at our campus network. This packet trace was captured at CNU as shown in Fig. 4 and it consists of mostly TCP traffic. Although many packet traces have been tested, only the representative set for two days is shown in this paper. Figure 4. Traffic measurement at Chungnam National University Table 1. CNU campus packet trace in the experiments ( ) Inbound Outbound Total bytes 3.2TB 2.4TB Total packets 6,812,926,748 7,272,913,398 Total flows 65,130,555 80,017,160 Overall, the prototype of the proposed traffic monitoring scheme has detected 0.6/0.8% flows with signatures for total inbound/outbound traffic. In the CNU campus network, since the recent negative firewall policy that opens only well-known port numbers has been employed, the anomaly traffic is not much reported in the experiments. Yet, our tool shows hidden anomaly traffic with signatures in Table 2. For example, bad traffic with loopback addresses or UDP port 0 was found with signatures of 528 and 525. Possible exploiting traffic with signature 312 was observed. In outbound link, hidden P2P traffic called Soribada was seen with a user-defined signature In addition, possible DDoS attack traffic with signature 1855 was captured. Table 2. Top 10 signatures found in CNU network Inbound Outbound Signature ID Number of flows Signature ID Number of flows , ,781

8 483 34, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,480 The detailed per-port statistics are shown in Table 3. In inbound traffic, various ICMP-based attack patterns have been found at port 0. Similarly, signatures are observed at well-known ports of 20, 22, 80, and 8080 as well as not-well-known ports of 2420, 2725, 3389, 4075, and In outbound traffic, one interesting port is which is used for web disk service of exchanging files. Destination Port Table 3. Top 10 port breakdown of traffic with signatures Inbound Total number of packets % of packets with signatures Destination Port Outbound Total number of packets % packets with signatures 0 198,190, ,446,312, ,441, ,463, ,035, ,413, ,638, ,554, ,638, ,500, ,907, ,935, ,004, ,201, ,867, ,077, ,295, ,164, ,619, ,544, At the specific port number, the found signature information is widely distributed. For example as shown in Fig. 5, BitTorrent signature 2180 has been found in outbound link. In addition, at port 80, other signatures such as bad traffic with loopback address (528), web-misc whisker tab splice attack (1087), spyware-put trackware (5837), and DDoS attack (1855). From the experiments, it was shown that our signature-aware traffic monitoring method can illustrate the hidden P2P or anomaly traffic patterns.

9 Various Signatures at Port 80 in CNU Inbound Traffic # of Packets Signature ID Various Signatures at Port 80 in CNU Outbound Traffic # of Packets Signature ID Figure 5. Various signatures found at port 80 Figure 6 is a snapshot of our tool [9] which can visualize signature-aware IPFIX flow data exported from routers. The traffic with signatures of 527 and 2586 has been shown. The signature ID of 527 is related with a DoS traffic attack with the same source and destination addresses. The signature ID of 2586 is the edonkey traffic which has E3 signature in the payload as follows. Figure 6. A snapshot of visualizing the signature-aware IPFIX flows.

10 5 Conclusion In this paper, we proposed a signature-aware traffic monitoring method under the IETF IPFIX standard, and showed experimental results with the prototype. Our traffic monitoring scheme can reveal the hidden traffic patterns that are not shown under the port-based traffic monitoring tools. In order to be compliant with the IPFIX standard, we defined the signature field by extending the IPFIX template. While the traffic monitoring function proposed by this paper requires high performance for deep packet inspection and fast flow classification, it could be supported with network processor (NP) systems with ASIC or TCAM. In addition, since the proposed method uses the IPFIX standard, it could easily support IPv6 networks by changing IP address types. Although this paper has shown the first and realistic security-related application of IPFIX, the payload inspection algorithm is needed to be further studied for completeness and correctness. For instance, the false positive of the signature-based traffic classification method will be further studied in the future work. References [1] Cisco NetFlow, x-charter.html [2] J. Quittek, T. Zseby, B. Claise, and S. Zander, Requirements for IP Flow Information Export (IPFIX), IETF RFC3917, Oct [3] D. Plonka, FlowScan: A Network Traffic Flow Reporting and Visualization Tool, USENIX LISA, [4] C. Fraleigh, S. Moon, B. Lyles, C. Cotton, M. Khan, D. Moll, R. Rockell, T. Seely, and C. Diot, Packet-Level Traffic Measurements from the Sprint IP Backbone, IEEE Network, vol. 17 no. 6, pp. 6-16, Nov [5] M. Roesch, Snort - Lightweight Intrusion Detection for Networks, USENIX LISA, [6] T. Choi, C. Kim, S. Yoon, J. Park, B. Lee, H. Kim, H. Chung, and T. Jeong, Contentaware Internet Application Traffic Measurement and Analysis, IEEE/IFIP Network Operations & Management Symposium, [7] A. Moore and K. Papagiannaki, Toward the Accurate Identification of Network Applications, Passive and Active Measurement Workshop, April [8] nprobe, [9] WinIPFIX,

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