About | Current Status | Documentation | Performance Tests | Downloads | About Us

Existing software based firewall and QoS applications are insufficient to meet the ever growing performance and security demands. While today's networks approach OC-192 (10 Gbit/sec), linear packet filters are already swamped with handling 1 Gbit/sec even for tiny rulesets. Using powerful, expensive hardware does not solve the problem since the linear packet classification approach simply does not scale with the number of rules.

HiPAC focuses on three main aspects forming the basis of today's and future packet classification applications: performance, scalability to large rulesets and dynamic rulesets. In the following, several interesting applications are presented illustrating that all these aspects are becoming more and more important.

Object based ruleset representation in management front-ends

Most modern firewall front-ends base their ruleset representation on network objects, i.e. each rule consists at least of a source, destination and service object where the source/destination object is a collection of IP addresses and networks and the service object is a collection of ports and port ranges. This representation is intended to increase maintainability by reducing the number of rules compared to "simple rulesets" where each rule solely consists of a source/destination IP (network) and port (range). However, these convenient specifications are usually translated into simple rulesets which are then installed on the firewall. Thereby, even small front-end rulesets may already lead to a large number of firewall rules. Consider a front-end ruleset of just 50 rules where each source, destination and service object consists of only 5 entries. On the firewall, this ruleset expands to 6250 rules. Moreover, each update of a network object usually causes more than a single rule to be modified.

Host based firewalling / QoS

In an environment with high, differentiated security demands, it is necessary to install fine-grained security policies in a flexible manner. This goal is accomplished by host based firewalling which defines security policies on a per host basis. This scenario is also applicable to QoS where each host is associated with a specific flow classification ruleset.

User based firewalling / QoS

A natural generalization of host based firewalling/QoS is user based firewalling/QoS. Here, the users are required to authenticate to a server before they are allowed to use any service. The server then activates the user's security policy depending on the host the user is currently working on. Besides a higher level of security, this approach reflects the mobility of users by overcoming the artificial one-to-one relationship between user and host as assumed by host based firewalling. Since each login and logoff operation issues a ruleset update, user based firewalling/QoS requires both large and dynamic rulesets. This is particularly interesting for ISPs who want to offer different types of Internet access models, e.g. by installing a dedicated, user editable firewall/QoS ruleset on the ISP side.

Black lists

Another application for large rulesets are black lists based on host and service which may grow huge in certain scenarios.

Fine grained rulesets

In the context of VPN and network segmentation, it is desirable to have full control over the different communication paths between the networks and VPN channels respectively. This can be accomplished by defining a communication matrix which specifies a security policy and/or QoS ruleset for each pair of hosts, networks or groups of hosts. Depending on the number of different communication partners and the complexity of the ruleset per pair, the total amount of rules might grow quite huge. The example communication matrix shown below illustrates the security policy of the campus network of the Saarland University. Assuming that each source/destination object consists of only 10 entries and the allowed services for each object pair are defined by 3 rules on average, the total number of rules implementing the policy grows to an astonishing 30000. Despite the huge number of rules in such scenarios, HiPAC is able to generate a compact representation of the decision data structure. This data structure is expected to completely fit into the caches of modern CPUs even for the largest real world setups which guarantees optimal lookup performance.

HORUS Communication Matrix