NetSMC: A Custom Symbolic Model Checker for Stateful Network Verification


Yifei Yuan, Intentionet; Soo-Jin Moon, Sahil Uppal, Limin Jia, and Vyas Sekar, Carnegie Mellon University


Modern networks enforce rich and dynamic policies (e.g., dynamic service chaining and path pinning) over a number of complex and stateful NFs (e.g., stateful firewall and load balancer). Verifying if those policies are correctly implemented is important to ensure the network’s availability, safety, and security. Unfortunately, theoretical results suggest that verifying even simple policies (e.g., A cannot talk to B) in stateful networks is undecidable. Consequently, any approach for stateful network verification has to fundamentally make some relaxations; e.g., either on policies supported, or the network behaviors it can capture, or in terms of the soundness/completeness guarantees. In this paper, we identify practical opportunities for relaxations in order to develop an efficient verification tool. First, we identify key domain-specific insights to develop a more compact network semantic model which is equivalent to a general semantic model for checking a wide range of policies under practical conditions. Second, we identify a restrictive-yet-expressive policy language to support a wide range of policies including dynamic service chaining and path pinning while enable efficient verification. Third, we develop customized symbolic model checking algorithms as our model and policy specification allows us to succinctly encode network states using existential first-order logic, which enables efficient checking algorithms. We prove the correctness of our approach for a subset of policies and show that our tool, NetSMC, achieves orders of magnitude speedup compared to existing approaches.

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@inproceedings {246512,
author = {Yifei Yuan and Soo-Jin Moon and Sahil Uppal and Limin Jia and Vyas Sekar},
title = {{NetSMC}: A Custom Symbolic Model Checker for Stateful Network Verification},
booktitle = {17th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 20)},
year = {2020},
isbn = {978-1-939133-13-7},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {181--200},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb

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