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Efficient Regular Expression Pattern Matching for Network Intrusion Detection Systems using Modified Word-based Automata

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  • Supercomputer Education & Research Centre


Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) intercept the traffic at an organization's network periphery to thwart intrusion attempts. Signature-based NIDS compares the intercepted packets against its database of known vulnerabilities and malware signatures to detect such cyber attacks. These signatures are represented using Regular Expressions (REs) and strings. Regular Expressions, because of their higher expressive power, are preferred over simple strings to write these signatures. We present Cascaded Automata Architecture to perform memory efficient Regular Expression pattern matching using existing string matching solutions. The proposed architecture performs two stage Regular Expression pattern matching. We replace the substring and character class components of the Regular Expression with new symbols. We address the challenges involved in this approach. We augment the Word-based Automata, obtained from the re-written Regular Expressions, with counter-based states and length bound transitions to perform Regular Expression pattern matching. We evaluated our architecture on Regular Expressions taken from Snort rulesets. We were able to reduce the number of automata states between 50% to 85%. Additionally, we could reduce the number of transitions by a factor of 3 leading to further reduction in the memory requirements.

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