Multiple pattern matching for network security applications: Acceleration through vectorization (pre-print version)
Journal article, 2020
As both new network attacks emerge and network traffic increases in volume, the need to perform network traffic inspection at high rates is ever increasing. The core of many security applications that inspect network traffic (such as Network Intrusion Detection) is pattern matching. At the same time, pattern matching is a major performance bottleneck for those applications: indeed, it is shown to contribute to more than 70% of the total running time of Intrusion Detection Systems. Although numerous efficient approaches to this problem have been proposed on custom hardware, it is challenging for pattern matching algorithms to gain benefit from the advances in commodity hardware. This becomes even more relevant with the adoption of Network Function Virtualization, that moves network services, such as Network Intrusion Detection, to the cloud, where scaling on commodity hardware is key for performance. In this paper, we tackle the problem of pattern matching and show how to leverage the architecture features found in commodity platforms. We present efficient algorithmic designs that achieve good cache locality and make use of modern vectorization techniques to utilize data parallelism within each core. We first identify properties of pattern matching that make it fit for vectorization and show how to use them in the algorithmic design. Second, we build on an earlier, cache-aware algorithmic design and show how we apply cache-locality combined with SIMD gather instructions to pattern matching. Third, we complement our algorithms with an analytical model that predicts their performance and that can be used to easily evaluate alternative designs. We evaluate our algorithmic design with open data sets of real-world network traffic: Our results on two different platforms, Haswell and Xeon-Phi, show a speedup of 1.8x and 3.6x, respectively, over Direct Filter Classification (DFC), a recently proposed algorithm by Choi et al. for pattern matching exploiting cache locality, and a speedup of more than 2.3x over Aho–Corasick, a widely used algorithm in today's Intrusion Detection Systems. Finally, we utilize highly parallel hardware platforms, evaluate the scalability of our algorithms and compare it to parallel implementations of DFC and Aho–Corasick, achieving processing throughput of up to 45Gbps and close to 2 times higher throughput than Aho–Corasick.