Such information security means as Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) inspect theSuch information security means as Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) inspect thenetwork packet payload to search malicious content. This process, deep packet inspection, involvesdetection of predefined signature strings. A computationally intensive task of stringmatching becomes a bottleneck of network defense facilities. Since conventional software-basedstring matching tools have not kept pace with the increasing network speeds, hardware solutionsbases on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have been introduced to solve this problem.There are several different methods for constructing hardware matching schemes on FPGAs. Oneof the most popular methods is based on Content-Addressable Memory (CAM) and underlyingdigital comparators. In this paper, a comprehensive analysis of this method is fulfilled. The keyfeatures of CAMs, their pros and cons, specifics of realization in hardware as well as encounteredproblems and ways to overcome them are investigated in details. The results obtained contributeto the effective constructing FPGA-based information security means.
NIDS, DPI, string matching, FPGA, CAM, digital comparator.
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