Encrypted Internet traffic classification using a supervised Spiking Neural Network

by   Ali Rasteh, et al.

Internet traffic recognition is an essential tool for access providers since recognizing traffic categories related to different data packets transmitted on a network help them define adapted priorities. That means, for instance, high priority requirements for an audio conference and low ones for a file transfer, to enhance user experience. As internet traffic becomes increasingly encrypted, the mainstream classic traffic recognition technique, payload inspection, is rendered ineffective. This paper uses machine learning techniques for encrypted traffic classification, looking only at packet size and time of arrival. Spiking neural networks (SNN), largely inspired by how biological neurons operate, were used for two reasons. Firstly, they are able to recognize time-related data packet features. Secondly, they can be implemented efficiently on neuromorphic hardware with a low energy footprint. Here we used a very simple feedforward SNN, with only one fully-connected hidden layer, and trained in a supervised manner using the newly introduced method known as Surrogate Gradient Learning. Surprisingly, such a simple SNN reached an accuracy of 95.9 better accuracy, there is also a very significant improvement on simplicity: input size, number of neurons, trainable parameters are all reduced by one to four orders of magnitude. Next, we analyzed the reasons for this good accuracy. It turns out that, beyond spatial (i.e. packet size) features, the SNN also exploits temporal ones, mostly the nearly synchronous (within a 200ms range) arrival times of packets with certain sizes. Taken together, these results show that SNNs are an excellent fit for encrypted internet traffic classification: they can be more accurate than conventional artificial neural networks (ANN), and they could be implemented efficiently on low power embedded systems.


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