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Related Work

The work described in this paper was implemented in part using Click [21], a modular router system that makes it easy to build efficient packet processing devices on commodity PC hardware. The grouping algorithm only requires information about connections among hosts, so it can obtain data from a variety of sources, from summary formats like RMON [28] and Netflow [6] to packet-level sniffers like tcpdump [18].

Part of the role classification algorithm can be viewed as a data clustering algorithm. Data clustering has been an active area of research for a few decades [14,19] and is known to be a difficult problem combinatorially. The techniques used to cluster data vary widely according to the assumptions, and contexts specific to application domains and many existing techniques are specifically developed for pattern recognition and image analysis. In general, a data clustering algorithm attempts to cluster data points or patterns, each of which is represented by a vector of real numbers. Patterns that are similar to each other are clustered together. The most popular metric for similarity measure is the Euclidean distance. One well-known clustering technique is the hierarchical agglomerative clustering technique. The idea is to merge clusters based on the pair-wise similarity measure of patterns. The merging process is stopped according to some predefined similarity thresholds. In this aspect, the group merging phase of the role classification algorithm can be classified as a hierarchical agglomerative clustering technique.

The main reason why traditional data clustering algorithms cannot be easily extended for our application domain is because it is difficult to represent the connection pattern of each host with a vector of numbers in such a way that the widely used Euclidean distance to measure the similarity between two connection patterns makes sense. Furthermore, we can leverage the communication patterns found in typical enterprise networks, such as client-server communications, to achieve more meaningful grouping results. We also note that traditional data clustering techniques do not deal with temporal correlation of clusters as the role correlation algorithm does.

The role classification algorithm is applicable to network intrusion detection. For example, grouping information provides context that can be used by intrusion detection systems [10,22] (IDS) to help determine how unusual (and hence potentially suspicious) a certain network behavior is (see Section 2).

As explained in Section 2, role grouping is well-suited to improving network monitoring and policy management. An entire industry [8,15,17] caters to enterprises' network management needs, and much literature is devoted to network monitoring, traffic reporting, and performance measurement [13,20,23,24]. All this work differs significantly from ours. The commercial network management systems are primarily integration and alerting tools, intended to provide operators with a unified view of disparate devices on the network. They serve as conduits for the raw data, but do not extract higher-level semantics such as role relationships. Academic work has focused on network monitoring and techniques for performance measurement, but again, the interpretation of data is generally left to humans.

Another tool that can help operators understand their networks is network visualization [1,5,11]. Visualization focuses on graphic design and automated layout algorithms to help users digest the vast amount of data generated by network monitoring tools. Unlike the grouping algorithm, these techniques have no notion of the logical structure of the network. However, they can complement grouping, exposing grouping information to the user and using grouping information to make better decisions about visual layout.

next up previous
Next: Summary Up: Role Classification of Hosts Previous: Run Time
Godfrey Tan 2003-04-01