Papers Publications

New conference paper “Improved Internet Traffic Analysis via Optimized Sampling”

The paper “Improved Internet Traffic Analysis via Optimized Sampling” (available at PDF Format) was accepted to ICASSP 2010. The focus of this paper is on the best down-sampling methods to use when measuring internet traffic in order preserve signal information for traffic analysis techniques such as anomaly detection.

From the abstract:

Applications to evaluate Internet quality-of-service and increase network security are essential to maintaining reliability and high performance in computer networks. These applications typically use very accurate, but high cost, hardware measurement systems. Alternate, less expensive software based systems are often impractical for use with analysis applications because they reduce the number and accuracy of measurements using a technique called interrupt coalescence, which can be viewed as a form of sampling. The goal of this paper is to optimize the way interrupt coalescence groups packets into measurements
so as to retain as much of the packet timing information as possible. Our optimized solution produces estimates of timing distributions much closer to those obtained using hardware based systems.
Further we show that for a real Internet analysis application, periodic signal detection, using measurements generated with our method improved detection times by at least 36%.

Citation: Sean McPherson and Antonio Ortega.  Improved Internet Traffic Analysis via Optimized Sampling.  In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, p. to appear.  Dallas, TX, USA, IEEE.  March, 2010.

Publications Technical Report

New tech report “Analysis of Internet Measurement Systems for Optimized Anomaly Detection System Design”

A new tech report has been posted to the Arxiv database at This paper shows the effect of a software based measurement system on the timing of the measurements obtained. Additionally this paper develops a period signal detection method specific to software based measurement.

Although there exist very accurate hardware systems for measuring traffic on the internet, their widespread use for analysis tasks is limited by their high cost. On the other hand, less expensive, software-based systems exist that are widely available and can be used to perform a number of simple analysis tasks. The caveat with using such software systems is that application of standard analysis methods cannot proceed blindly because inherent distortions exist in the measurements obtained from software systems. The goal of this paper is to analyze common Internet measurement systems to discover the effect of these distortions on common analysis tasks. Then by selecting one specific task, periodic signal detection, a more in-depth analysis is conducted which derives a signal representation to capture the salient features of the measurement and develops a periodic detection mechanism designed for the measurement system which outperforms an existing detection method not optimized for the measurement system. Finally, through experiments the importance of understanding the relationship between the input traffic, measurement system configuration and detection method performance is emphasized.

Citation: Sean McPherson and Antonio Ortega. Analysis of Internet Measurement Systems for Optimized Anomaly Detection System Design. Technical Report N. arXiv:0907.5233v1, University of Southern California, Department of Electrical Engineering, July, 2009.

Publications Technical Report

new tech report “Parametric Methods for Anomaly Detection in Aggregate Traffic”

We just posted a tech report “Parametric Methods for Anomaly Detection in Aggregate Traffic” at <>. This paper represents quite a bit of work looking at how to apply parametric detection as part of the NSF-sponsored MADCAT project.

From the abstract:

This paper develops parametric methods to detect network anomalies using only aggregate traffic statistics in contrast to other works requiring flow separation, even when the anomaly is a small fraction of the total traffic.  By adopting simple statistical models for anomalous and background traffic in the time-domain, one can estimate model parameters in real-time, thus obviating the need for a long training phase or manual parameter tuning.  The detection mechanism uses a sequential probability ratio test, allowing for control over the false positive rate while examining the trade-off between detection time and the strength of an anomaly.  Additionally, it uses both traffic-rate and packet-size statistics, yielding a bivariate model that eliminates most false positives.  The method is analyzed using the bitrate SNR metric, which is shown to be an effective metric for anomaly detection.  The performance of the bPDM is evaluated in three ways:  first, synthetically generated traffic provides for a controlled comparison of detection time as a function of the anomalous level of traffic.  Second, the approach is shown to be able to detect controlled artificial attacks over the USC campus network in varying real traffic mixes.  Third, the proposed algorithm achieves rapid detection of real denial-of-service attacks as determined by the replay of previously captured network traces.  The method developed in this paper is able to detect all attacks in these scenarios in a few seconds or less.

Citation: Gautam Thatte, Urbashi Mitra, and John Heidemann. Parametric Methods for Anomaly Detection in Aggregate Traffic. Technical Report N. ISI-TR-2009-663, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August, 2009.

Publications Technical Report

new tech report “Understanding Address Usage in the Visible Internet”

We just posted a tech report “Understanding Address Usage in the Visible Internet” at <>.

The abstract summarizes the tech report:

Although the Internet is widely used today, there are few sound estimates of network demographics. Decentralized network management means questions about Internet use cannot be answered by a central authority, and firewalls and sensitivity to probing means that active measurements must be done carefully and validated against known data. Building on frequent ICMP probing of 1% of the Internet address space, we develop a clustering algorithm to estimate how Internet addresses are used. We show that adjacent addresses often have similar characteristics and are used for similar purposes (61% of addresses we probe are consistent blocks of 64 neighbors or more). We then apply this block-level clustering to provide data to explore several open questions in how networks are managed. First, the nearing full allocation of IPv4 addresses makes it increasingly important to estimate the costs of better management of the IPv4 space as a component of an IPv6 transition. We provide about how effectively network addresses blocks appear to be used, finding that a significant number of blocks are only lightly used (about one-fifth of /24 blocks ha
ve most addresses in use less than 10% of the time). Second, we provide new measurements about dynamically managed address space, showing nearly 40% of /24 blocks appear to be dynamically allocated, and dynamic addressing is most widely used in countries more recently to the Internet (more than 80% in China, while less then 30% in the U.S.).

Xue Cai and John Heidemann. Understanding Address Usage in the Visible Internet. Technical Report N. ISI-TR-2009-656, USC/Information Sciences Institute, February, 2009.

Papers Publications

new paper “Uses and Challenges for Network Datasets”

We just posted a pre-print of the paper “Uses and Challenges for Network Datasets”, to appear at IEEE CATCH in March.  The pre-print is at <>.

The abstract summarizes the paper:

Network datasets are necessary for many types of network research.  While there has been significant discussion about specific datasets, there has been less about the overall state of network data collection.  The goal of this paper is to explore the research questions facing the Internet today, the datasets needed to answer those questions, and the challenges to using those datasets.  We suggest several practices that have proven important in use of current data sets, and open challenges to improve use of network data.

More specifically, the paper tries to answer the question Jody Westby put to PREDICT PIs, which is “why take data, what is it good for”?  While a simple question, it’s not easy to answer (at least, my attempt to dash of a quick answer in e-mail failed).  The paper is an attempt at a more thoughtful answer.

The paper tries to summarize and point to a lot of ongoing work, but I know that our coverage was insufficient.  We welcome feedback about what we’re missing.

John Heidemann and Christos Papadopoulos. Uses and Challenges for Network Datasets. In Proceedings of the IEEE Cybersecurity Applications and Technologies Conference for Homeland Security (CATCH), pp. 73-82. Washington, DC, USA, IEEE. March, 2009.

Papers Publications

IMC paper on Internet Census described in MIT Tech Review

The IMC paper “Census and Survey of the Visible Internet” was described in an article “Probe Sees Unused Internet” in the MIT Technology Review by Robert Lemos.

The article provides a nice summary of the issues, but it reaches a conclusion that is stronger supported by the study.  The subhead of the article is “A survey shows that addresses are not running out as quickly as we’d thought”, and the article draws the conclusion: “the problem [of IPv4 address exhaustion] may not be as bad as many fear.”

The article’s conclusion, I think, overly simplifies matters—it is only true if the “better things we should be doing in managing the IPv4 address space” are free. The Internet Census we carried out supports the opportunity for better IPv4 address space management.  But an open question is the cost of such management.  Historically, with plentiful IPv4 addresses, IPv4 management costs have been small, but potential better IPv4 management will likely be much more costly.  This cost of ongoing IPv4 management needs to be weighed against the costs of one-time conversion cost to IPv6 coupled followed lower IPv6 management costs.

To me, one exciting conclusion from the Internet Census we carried out is that we now have data that allows us to start evaluating these trade-offs.  The answer may be more careful IPv4 gets us a few years, or that the cost of more careful IPv4 makes IPv6 an obvious choice.  In either case, resolving this transition is important for the Internet community.

Papers Publications

new paper about Internet address space census and survey

We are happy to report that the paper “Census and Survey of the Visible Internet” has been accepted to appear at the Internet Measurement Conference in Vouliagmeni, Greece in October 2008.

A preprint is available at, and an extended version is available as an updated technical report at

Citation: John Heidemann, Yuri Pradkin, Ramesh Govindan, Christos Papadopoulos, Genevieve Bartlett, and Joseph Bannister. Census and Survey of the Visible Internet. In Proceedings of the ACM Internet Measurement Conference, pp. 169-182. Vouliagmeni, Greece, ACM. October, 2008.

Papers Publications

Internet address space: new technical paper and browsable map

A number of folks expressed interest in our ANT census of the Internet address space at <>.

We have three recent updates, a new TECHNICAL REPORT and a BROWSABLE INTERNET ADDRESS MAP, and a PROJECT BLOG.

We have have released a new TECHNICAL REPORT describing the methodology,  ISI-TR-2008-649 at <>.
This report should completely supersede our previous report (#640), adding:

  • evaluation in ping accuracy, both absolutely and relative to TCP probing
  • estimation of error in our evaluations of hosts and server counts
  • validation of our approach to firewall detection
  • significant improvements in organization and presentation

We have also put up a BROWSABLE INTERNET ADDRESS MAP at <>.

With the Google maps engine, this map lets you zoom from an overview to any part of the address space, including showing individual hosts (permuted for anonymization).

Finally, we now have a PROJECT BLOG to allow folks to track future developments: <>.  We plan to do all future announcements via the blog rather than with general e-mail messages, so folks can opt-in to what they want to hear.

We welcome any comments about the map or technical report, either to our group mailing list (ant, then at, or to individuals.

-ANT folks (John Heidemann, Yuri Pradkin, Ramesh Govindan, Christos Papadopoulos, Genevieve Bartlett, Joseph Bannister)