Research Output

Lightweight edge authentication for software defined networks

  OpenFlow is considered as the most known protocol for Software Defined Networking (SDN). The main drawback of OpenFlow is the lack of support of new header definitions, which is required by network operators to apply new packet encapsulations. While SDN’s logically centralized control plane could enhance network security by providing global visibility of the network state, it still has many side effects. The intelligent controllers that orchestrate the dumb switches are overloaded and become prone to failure. Delegating some level of control logic to the edge or, to be precise, the switches can offload the controllers from local state based decisions that do not require global network wide knowledge. Thus, this paper, to the best of our knowledge, is the first to propose the delegation of typical security functions from specialized middleboxes to the data plane. We leverage the opportunities offered by programming protocol-independent packet processors (P4) language to present two authentication techniques to assure that only legitimate nodes are able to access the network. The first technique is the port knocking and the second technique is the One-Time Password. Our experimental results indicate that our proposed techniques improve the network overall availability by offloading the controller as well as reducing the traffic in the network without noticeable negative impact on switches’ performance.

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  • Date:

    08 August 2020

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  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Almaini, A., Al-Dubai, A., Romdhani, I., Schramm, M., & Alsarhan, A. (2021). Lightweight edge authentication for software defined networks. Computing, 103,



Software-defined networking (SDN), Data plane programmability, Port scan, Security, P4

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