Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Self-Securing Network Interfaces: What, Why and How

Gregory R. Ganger, Gregg Economou, Stanley M. Bielski


Keywords: Network security, intrusion detection, firewall, proxy, virus, worm, NIC

Self-securing network interfaces (NIs) examine the packets that they move between network links and host software, looking for and potentially blocking malicious network activity. This paper describes self-securing network interfaces, their features, and examples of how these features allow administrators to more effectively spot and contain malicious network activity. We present a software architecture for self-securing NIs that separates scanning software into applications (called scanners) running on a NI kernel. The resulting scanner API simplifies the construction of scanning software and allows its powers to be contained even if it is subverted. We illustrate the potential via a prototype self-securing NI and two example scanners: one that identifies and blocks known e-mail viruses and one that identifies and inhibits rapidly-propagating worms like Code-Red.

24 pages

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