Open Access


Leveraging Active Decremental TTL Measuring for Flexible and Efficient NAT identification

Tao Yang1, Chengyu Wang1, Tongqing Zhou1, Zhiping Cai1,*, Kui Wu2, Bingnan Hou1
1 National University of Defense Technology, Changsha, 410073, China
2 Department of Computer Science, University of Victoria, Canada
* Corresponding Author: Zhiping Cai. Email:

Computers, Materials & Continua 2022, 70(3), 5179-5198.

Received 08 July 2021; Accepted 09 August 2021; Issue published 11 October 2021


Malicious attacks can be launched by misusing the network address translation technique as a camouflage. To mitigate such threats, network address translation identification is investigated to identify network address translation devices and detect abnormal behaviors. However, existing methods in this field are mainly developed for relatively small-scale networks and work in an offline manner, which cannot adapt to the real-time inference requirements in high-speed network scenarios. In this paper, we propose a flexible and efficient network address translation identification scheme based on actively measuring the distance of a round trip to a target with decremental time-to-live values. The basic intuition is that the incoming and outgoing traffic from a network address translation device usually experiences the different number of hops, which can be discovered by probing with dedicated time-to-live values. We explore a joint effort of parallel transmission, stateless probes, and flexible measuring reuse to accommodate the efficiency of the measuring process. We further accelerate statistical counting with a new sublinear space data structure Bi-sketch. We implement a prototype and conduct real-world deployments with 1000 volunteers in 31 Chinese provinces, which is believed to bring insight for ground truth collection in this field. Experiments on multi-sources datasets show that our proposal can achieve as high precision and recall as 95% with a traffic handling throughput of over 106 pps.


Network address translation; NAT security; NAT identification; active measurement

Cite This Article

T. Yang, C. Wang, T. Zhou, Z. Cai, K. Wu et al., "Leveraging active decremental ttl measuring for flexible and efficient nat identification," Computers, Materials & Continua, vol. 70, no.3, pp. 5179–5198, 2022.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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