Literature review: Diagnosing Home Network Misconfigurations

Literature review: Diagnosing Home Network Misconfigurations

Introduction

A computer network refers to a system or group of interconnected computers or computer applications with the aim of sharing resources. Computers and operating systems in general have become more accessible and easy to use. As a result, this has seen a rise in home computer networks as the need to interconnect more computerized accessories increases. This general uptake of home-based networks has necessitated the need for network diagnosis and troubleshooting as most home users have no technical background.

Background information

For networked applications to operate correctly, they rely on a number of information configurations. These set of configurations resides in firewalls, end hosts and routers among other network nodes. For instance, a firewall’s configuration instructs it on which network traffic it should block or let through. Consequently, misconfiguration or incorrect instructions on network nodes could hamper the efficient operation of networked applications. Predominantly, these configuration errors are particularly common in consumer environments such as within home networks, where there are no network administrators alongside diverse network elements (Aggarwal, Bhagwan and Das).

Problem Statement and Motivation

Since networked applications rely on information configuration to operate correctly, incorrect configuration on networked nodes could hamper the smooth running of home networks. In order to address this challenge, the author introduces NetPrints – a system that leverages a knowledgebase within a user network to identify and resolve misconfigurations (Aggarwal et, al. 349).

Proposed Solution: NetPrints

NetPrints – Network Problem Fingerprints, uses active probing to aid its users diagnose, identify and resolve network misconfigurations. This is made possible by using accumulated user knowledge. Though NetPrints works through online discussion forums, a significant distinction is that information indexing and retrieval in NetPrints occurs automatically, and with little need for human involvement. It is thus made up of both server and client modules.

On the end-hosts, for instance home computers, collects configuration information relevant to network setup, local host configuration, as well as the network-based application being accessed. This uses the client component of NetPrints. In addition, NetPrints client module captures network traffic linked to the application and pull out a feature vector characterizing the corresponding network activity. This information that includes problems encountered and diagnosis feedback is uploaded on NetPrints knowledgebase and with minimal user engagement, the help given is rated as either good or bad (Aggarwal, Bhagwan and Das). The NetPrints server on the other hand executes a decision-tree-based-knowledge leveraging labeled configuration data uploaded by the client to build a configuration tree, which programs the knowledgebase of the configuration scenarios that work and those that do not.

Aggarwal et, al. prototyped NetPrints on the Windows Vista within a network environment of four computers to presenting a list of home network configuration related challenges. Using real data collected data mimicking real-world diverse configurations, this evaluation demonstrated NetPrints’ robustness and effectiveness even the face of wrongly labeled data. Additional work is ongoing in the area of data integrity, privacy, and incentive

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