Automated Verification of Network Function Binaries


Solal Pirelli, EPFL; Akvilė Valentukonytė, Citrix Systems; Katerina Argyraki and George Candea, EPFL


Formally verifying the correctness of software network functions (NFs) is necessary for network reliability, yet existing techniques require full source code and mandate the use of specific data structures.

We describe an automated technique to verify NF binaries, making verification usable by network operators even on proprietary code. To solve the key challenge of bridging the abstraction levels of NF implementations and specifications without special-casing a set of data structures, we observe that data structures used by NFs can be modeled as maps, and introduce a universal type to specify both NFs and their data structures, the "ghost map". In addition, we observe that the interactions between an NF and its environment are sufficient to infer control flow and types, removing the requirement for source code.

We implement our technique in Klint, a tool with which we verify, in minutes, that 7 NF binaries satisfy their specifications, without limiting developers' choices of data structures. The specifications are written in Python and use maps to model state. Klint can also verify an entire NF binary stack, all the way down to the NIC driver, using a minimal operating system. Operators can thus verify NF binaries, without source code or debug symbols, without requiring developers to use specific programming languages or data structures, and without trusting any software except Klint.

NSDI '22 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

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@inproceedings {278342,
author = {Solal Pirelli and Akvil{\.e} Valentukonyt{\.e} and Katerina Argyraki and George Candea},
title = {Automated Verification of Network Function Binaries},
booktitle = {19th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-27-4},
address = {Renton, WA},
pages = {585--600},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr

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