Exploiting the Vulnerability of Flow Table Overflow in Software-Defined Network: Attack Model, Evaluation, and Defense

Document Type


Publication Date



As the most competitive solution for next-generation network, SDN and its dominant implementation OpenFlow are attracting more and more interests. But besides convenience and flexibility, SDN/OpenFlow also introduces new kinds of limitations and security issues. Of these limitations, the most obvious and maybe the most neglected one is the flow table capacity of SDN/OpenFlow switches. In this paper, we proposed a novel inference attack targeting at SDN/OpenFlow network, which is motivated by the limited flow table capacities of SDN/OpenFlow switches and the following measurable network performance decrease resulting from frequent interactions between data and control plane when the flow table is full. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first proposed inference attack model of this kind for SDN/OpenFlow. We implemented an inference attack framework according to our model and examined its efficiency and accuracy. The evaluation results demonstrate that our framework can infer the network parameters (flow table capacity and usage) with an accuracy of 80% or higher. We also proposed two possible defense strategies for the discovered vulnerability, including routing aggregation algorithm and multilevel flow table architecture. These findings give us a deeper understanding of SDN/OpenFlow limitations and serve as guidelines to future improvements of SDN/OpenFlow.



Find in your library

Off-Campus WSU Users