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Modelling pcap expressions

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Peter Sewell.

Pcap expressions are the de facto language for specifying packet filters. Standard tools like tcpdump, wireshark, and ngrep, are given pcap expressions like “(not host sandy) and dst portrange 22-25”, conveniently describing what traffic the user is interested in.

Like many real-world systems, pcap is informally specified and has ad hoc design extensions. Unfortunately, even a small language like pcap can yield unexpected (and usually unwanted) behaviour.

In this talk I describe ongoing work to model pcap expressions, the challenges and surprises therein, and how such a model could support building better language-based tools for networking.

This talk is part of the REMS lunch series.

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