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Implementing Distributed Internet Security using a Firewall Collaboration Framework. Lane Thames and Randal Abler Georgia Institute of Technology Distributed Network Applications Laboratory. Outline. Introduction Computer security overview Firewall technology overview Related Work

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Implementing Distributed Internet Security using a Firewall Collaboration Framework

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Implementing distributed internet security using a firewall collaboration framework

Implementing Distributed Internet Security using a Firewall Collaboration Framework

Lane Thames and Randal Abler

Georgia Institute of Technology

Distributed Network Applications Laboratory



  • Introduction

  • Computer security overview

  • Firewall technology overview

  • Related Work

  • Firewall Collaboration Framework

  • Future Work and Conclusions



  • The Internet is growing

  • The growth appears to be accelerating

Internet growth 1

Internet Growth [1]

Internet growth 2

Internet Growth [2]

Internet growth and attack trends

Internet Growth and Attack Trends

  • As the phenomenal growth of the Internet continues, malicious activities will continue to increase as well.

  • Hacking: Computer activity with malicious intentions.

Hacking trends

Hacking Trends

  • Paradigm shift taking place in the Hacking Community.

  • Whereas hackers once performed their malicious deeds for Internet notoriety, there are now large numbers that do this for profit.

Hacking trends1

Hacking Trends

  • According to PC World News, Jeanson Ancheta was arrested by the FBI in 2006 and was the first hacker to be prosecuted in the US for creating malicious code for a profit.

Hacking trends2

Hacking Trends

  • According to Symantec, spammers and phishers pay on average about $350.00 per week for a botnet of 5500 zombie computers.

Hacking trends3

Hacking Trends

  • Corporate extortion, information espionage, and identity theft are Internet commodities for malicious users.

  • Protx—British online payment processing company. Attacks brought their system down in 2005. The extortionists warned that the attacks would continue unless a $10,000 fee was paid.

Hacking trends4

Hacking Trends

  • Identity theft—huge ROI for hackers

  • According to anti-spam provider Cloudmark, credit card data sells for up to $100.00 per account.

The engineering need

The Engineering Need

  • What does the data tell us?

  • There still exists an engineering need to continue developing reliable and robust computer security systems that can thwart the actions of malicious users as their tools and techniques continue to evolve.

  • Because of the financial incentives now presented to hackers, the need is even greater than in the past.

Computer security overview

Computer Security Overview

  • The field of computer security provides the technologies to prevent users with malicious intent from doing damage

Computer security services

Computer Security Services

  • The five main services:

    • Confidentiality

    • Authenticity

    • Integrity

    • Availability

    • Access Control

Computer network attack types

Computer/Network Attack Types

  • Common Attack Types

    • Buffer Overflow Exploits

    • Denial of Service

    • Password Attacks

Computer network attack types1

Computer/Network Attack Types

  • Common Attack Types

    • Exponential Attacks

    • Trojan Horses, Spyware, Adware

    • Spam and Phishing

    • TCP/IP protocol exploitation

Overview of firewall technology

Overview of Firewall Technology

  • Firewalls—devices that limit network access

  • Firewalls are access control mechanisms

  • They are components inserted between two networks that filter network traffic according to a LOCAL security policy

Firewall types

Firewall Types

  • Packet Filtering Devices

  • Application Filtering Devices

  • Stateful Packet Filtering Devices

Firewall strengths

Firewall Strengths

  • Disallows incoming connections to hosts that do not offer public network services

  • Reduces the amount of dangerous noise flowing through networks (probes)

  • Allows administrators tools to control their networks from the inside and outside (i.e. do you allow your users to get access to the Web?)

Firewall weaknesses

Firewall Weaknesses

  • Because of increasing line speeds and computation-intensive protocols (IPSec), the firewall can become a congestion point

  • There exist protocols that are difficult to process at the firewall

  • Classical firewall design assumes that all internal users can be trusted

Firewall weaknesses1

Firewall Weaknesses

  • Large networks tend to have high numbers of ingress points. This makes administration difficult, both from a practical point of view and with regard to policy consistency

  • End-to-end encryption can be a threat to firewalls as it prevents the firewalls from looking at the packet fields necessary for certain types of filtering

Related work

Related Work

  • Bellovin, et al—First to describe a distributed firewall system.

  • Many firewalls within an institute’s network, all being centrally managed

  • Overcome issues like multiple ingress points and trusting inside users

Related work1

Related Work

  • Smith, et al—Cascade model of distributed firewalls

  • Zou, et al—Defense in Depth model of distributed firewalls

  • These two works are similar in nature

Related work2

Related Work

  • Schnackenberg, et al—Infrastructure for Intrusion Detection and Response

  • Intrusion Detection and Isolation Protocol (IDIP)

  • Similar in nature to the FCF, but designed with IDS at the core

Firewall collaboration framework

Firewall Collaboration Framework

  • Some factors driving the design and development of this framework

Spam statistics 3 2006

Spam Statistics [3](2006)

  • Email considered spam: 40% of all email

  • Daily spam emails sent: 12.4 billion

  • Daily spam received per person: 6

  • Email address changes due to spam: 16%

  • Wasted corporate time per spam email: 4-5 seconds

  • Estimated spam increase by end of 2007: 63%

Exponential attacks internet worms

Exponential Attacks-Internet Worms

  • The Logistics equation is commonly used to model worm propagation. It can be derived (not just assumed)

  • The logistics equation describes the rate of growth of epidemics in finite systems when all entities are equally likely to infect any other entity

Worm propagation model

Worm Propagation Model

  • N(t): the number of infected hosts at t

  • S: the total number of susceptible hosts

  • α: the rate at which one machine can compromise another

  • T: the time where ½ of the total number of susceptible hosts are infected

Worm propagation model1

Worm Propagation Model

The philosophy of this work

The Philosophy of this Work

  • Limit the impact of malware such as worms, viruses, and spam as well as the actions of malicious users by attempting to stop the malicious behavior as close to the source as possible thus preserving network resources for intended applications

High level system description

High Level System Description

  • Create a federation of firewalls that collaborate with each other and share a “global” pool of information.

  • Use advanced algorithms to classify malicious activities in real-time.

  • Distribute the new attack classification information to members of the federation

Firewall collaboration framework the concept

Firewall Collaboration Framework—The Concept

Framework components

Framework Components


Trust Relationship Management

Policy Management

Network Traffic Classification

Information Management

Resource Management

Federation management

Federation Management

  • Control membership of new firewalls to the federation

  • Responsible for establishing initial trust between the new firewall and the federation

Trust relationship management

Trust Relationship Management

  • Maintain trust relationships between members

  • Information authentication

  • Credential management

Policy management

Policy Management

  • Responsible for differentiating “Local” security policy from “Global” security policy

Network traffic classification

Network Traffic Classification

  • Let’s look a little closer at some attack types

Buffer overflow case study

Buffer Overflow—Case Study

Buffer overflow case study1


Other data

Return Address

* str=input buffer

Rest of Stack

Buffer Overflow—Case Study

  • Abstract view of the memory stack before the call to strcpy

Buffer overflow case study2

Buffer Overflow—Case Study

Denial of service case study icmp smurf attack

Denial of Service—Case StudyICMP Smurf Attack

Denial of service case study tcp syn flood attack

Denial of Service—Case StudyTCP SYN Flood Attack

Attack case studies summary

Attack Case Studies--Summary

  • With each of the previous mentioned case studies, data flows can be collected from end hosts and from within the network

  • The collected data flows can be analyzed with algorithms, and behavioral classification can be performed

  • The behavioral classification allows the observation of malicious behavior to be made

Network traffic classification1

Network Traffic Classification

  • Classical Types of Classification

    • Statistical based anomaly detection

    • Rule based anomaly detection

    • Signature based anomaly detection

    • Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques [4]

  • Main goal: Classify traffic in real-time and send information vectors to the federation

Information management

Information Management

  • Information transport

    • Centralized, peer-to-peer, hybrid

  • Information caching and staleness

  • Information confidentiality and integrity

Resource management

Resource Management

  • Provide mechanisms needed for scalability, reliability, and robustness

Experimental evaluation

Experimental Evaluation

  • Linux IPtables firewall mechanism

  • PortSentry scan detection tool

  • netcat and Perl scripting

  • nmap scanning tool

Experimental evaluation1

Experimental Evaluation

  • Stop at source? YES

  • Preemptive protection? YES

  • Is denial of service a major threat? YES

Future work

Future Work

  • The framework is in its initial design stage

  • Solution spaces for the framework components will be evaluated

  • In depth analysis of the solution space for the network traffic classification component as it is the major component of the framework



  • Computer network attacks evolve on a daily basis. Financial incentives will drive the evolution of these attacks. We believe the FCF will be a useful tool for protecting networks against attack. The framework will allow malicious data flows to be stopped at or close to the source, and it will allow for preemptive protection.



  • CERT—Computer Emergency Response Team,

  • “Internet traffic growth: Sources and implications,” A.M. Odlyzko, Proceedings of SPIE, 2003

  •, D. Evett, 2006

  • “Hybrid Intelligent Systems for Network Security,” J.L.Thames, R. Abler, A. Saad, Proceedings of the ACM Southeast Conference, 2006

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