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Book Sections Year : 2013

Reviewing Traffic Classification


Traffic classification has received increasing attention in the last years. It aims at offering the ability to automatically recognize the application that has generated a given stream of packets from the direct and passive observation of the individual packets, or stream of packets, flowing in the network. This ability is instrumental to a number of activities that are of extreme interest to carriers, Internet service providers and network administrators in general. Indeed, traffic classification is the basic block that is required to enable any traffic management operations, from differentiating traffic pricing and treatment (e.g., policing, shaping, etc.), to security operations (e.g., firewalling, filtering, anomaly detection, etc.).

Up to few years ago, almost any Internet application was using well-known transport layer protocol ports that easily allowed its identification. More recently, the number of applications using random or non-standard ports has dramatically increased (e.g. Skype, BitTorrent, VPNs, etc.). Moreover, often network applications are configured to use well-known protocol ports assigned to other applications (e.g. TCP port 80 originally reserved for Web traffic) attempting to disguise their presence.

For these reasons, and for the importance of correctly classifying traffic flows, novel approaches based respectively on packet inspection, statistical and machine learning techniques, and behavioral methods have been investigated and are becoming standard practice. In this chapter, we discuss the main trend in the field of traffic classification and we describe some of the main proposals of the research community.

We complete this chapter by developing two examples of behavioral classifiers: both use supervised machine learning algorithms for classifications, but each is based on different features to describe the traffic. After presenting them, we compare their performance using a large dataset, showing the benefits and drawback of each approach.

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Dates and versions

hal-02286783 , version 1 (13-09-2019)


  • HAL Id : hal-02286783 , version 1


S. Valenti, D. Rossi, Alberto Dainotti, A. Pescape, A. Finamore, et al.. Reviewing Traffic Classification. Data Traffic Monitoring and Analysis, Springer, pp.123-147, 2013. ⟨hal-02286783⟩
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