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The spread of a source host is the number of distinct destinations that it has sent packets to during a measurement period. A spread estimator is a software/hardware module on a router that inspects the arrival packets and estimates the spread of each source. It has important applications in detecting port scans and DDoS attacks, measuring the infection rate of a worm, assisting resource allocation in a server farm, determining popular web contents for caching, to name a few. The main technical challenge is to fit a spread estimator in a fast but small memory (such as SRAM) in order to operate it at the line speed in a high-speed network.
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