CyberPulse: A Security Framework for Software-Defined Networks

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Rasool, Raihan Ur (2020) CyberPulse: A Security Framework for Software-Defined Networks. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technology provides a new perspective in traditional network management by separating infrastructure plane from the control plane which facilitates a higher level of programmability and management. While centralized control provides lucrative benefits, the control channel becomes a bottleneck and home to numerous attacks. We conduct a detailed study and find that crossfire Link Flooding Attacks (LFA) are one of the most lethal attacks for SDN due to the utilization of low-rate traffic and persistent attacking nature. LFAs can be launched by the malicious adversaries to congest the control plane with low-rate traffic which can obstruct the flow rule installation and can ultimately bring down the whole network. Similarly, the adversary can employ bots to generate low-rate traffic to congest the control channel, and ultimately bring down the control plane and data plane connection causing service disruption. We present a systematic and comparative study on the vulnerabilities of LFAs on all the SDN planes, elaborate in detail the LFA types, techniques, and their behavior in all the variant of SDN. We then illustrate the importance of a defense mechanism employing a distributed strategy against LFAs and propose a Machine Learning (ML) based framework namely CyberPulse. Its detailed design, components, and their interaction, working principles, implementation, and in-depth evaluation are presented subsequently. This research presents a novel approach to write anomaly patterns and makes a significant contribution by developing a pattern-matching engine as the first line of defense against known attacks at a line-speed. The second important contribution is the effective detection and mitigation of LFAs in SDN through deep learning techniques. We perform twofold experiments to classify and mitigate LFAs. In the initial experimental setup, we utilize Artificial Neural Networks backward propagation technique to effectively classify the incoming traffic. In the second set of experiments, we employ a holistic approach in which CyberPulse demonstrates algorithm agnostic behavior and employs a pre-trained ML repository for precise classification. As an important scientific contribution, CyberPulse framework has been developed ground up using modern software engineering principles and hence provides very limited bandwidth and computational overhead. It has several useful features such as large-scale network-level monitoring, real-time network status information, and support for a wide variety of ML algorithms. An extensive evaluation is performed using Floodlight open-source controller which shows that CyberPulse offers limited bandwidth and computational overhead and proactively detect and defend against LFA in real-time. This thesis contributes to the state-of-the-art by presenting a novel framework for the defense, detection, and mitigation of LFA in SDN by utilizing ML-based classification techniques. Existing solutions in the area mandate complex hardware for detection and defense, but our presented solution offers a unique advantage in the sense that it operates on real-time traffic scenario as well as it utilizes multiple ML classification algorithms for LFA traffic classification without necessitating complex and expensive hardware. In the future, we plan to implement it on a large testbed and extend it by training on multiple datasets for multiple types of attacks.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0801 Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing
Historical > FOR Classification > 0805 Distributed Computing
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords anomaly patterns; pattern-matching engine; Link Flooding Attacks; LFAs; Software-Defined Networking; SDN; deep learning; Artificial Neural Networks; CyberPulse; Machine Learning; ML classification algorithms
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