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Computer networks are vulnerable to attacks, where the network infrastructure itself is targeted. Emerging router designs, which use software-programmable embedded processors, increase the vulnerability to such attacks. The authors present the design of a Secure Packet Processing Platform (SPPP) that can protect these router systems. They use an instruction-level monitoring system to detect deviations in processing behavior. If such deviations are detected, a recovery system is invoked to restore the system into an operational state. Their preliminary results show that most attacks can be detected within a single instruction. The system overhead for secure monitoring is limited to a fraction of the overall space, memory, and power budget.
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