Security

Improving NFA-Based Signature Matching Using Ordered Binary Decision Diagrams

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Executive Summary

Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) make extensive use of regular expressions as attack signatures. Internally, NIDS represent and operate these signatures using finite automata. Existing representations of finite automata present a well-known time-space tradeoff: Deterministic automata (DFAs) provide fast matching but are memory intensive, while non-deterministic automata (NFAs) are space-efficient but are several orders of magnitude slower than DFAs. This time/space tradeoff has motivated much recent research, primarily with a focus on improving the space-efficiency of DFAs, often at the cost of reducing their performance.

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