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Software-defined networks facilitate rapid and open innovation at the network control layer by providing a programmable network infrastructure for computing flow policies on demand. However, the dynamism of programmable networks also introduces new security challenges that demand innovative solutions. A critical challenge is efficient detection and reconciliation of potentially conflicting flow rules imposed by dynamic OpenFlow (OF) applications. To that end, the authors introduce FortNOX, a software extension that provides role-based authorization and security constraint enforcement for the NOX OpenFlow controller. FortNOX enables NOX to check flow rule contradictions in real time, and implements a novel analysis algorithm that is robust even in cases where an adversarial OF application attempts to strategically insert flow rules that would otherwise circumvent flow rules imposed by OF security applications.
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