Detecting DDoS Attacks in Software-Defined Networks Through Feature Selection Methods and Machine Learning Models

Polat H., Polat O., Çetin A.

SUSTAINABILITY, vol.12, no.3, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/su12031035
  • Journal Name: SUSTAINABILITY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Geobase, INSPEC, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: SDN, AI algorithms, feature selection, DDoS attacks
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


Software Defined Networking (SDN) offers several advantages such as manageability, scaling, and improved performance. However, SDN involves specific security problems, especially if its controller is defenseless against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The process and communication capacity of the controller is overloaded when DDoS attacks occur against the SDN controller. Consequently, as a result of the unnecessary flow produced by the controller for the attack packets, the capacity of the switch flow table becomes full, leading the network performance to decline to a critical threshold. In this study, DDoS attacks in SDN were detected using machine learning-based models. First, specific features were obtained from SDN for the dataset in normal conditions and under DDoS attack traffic. Then, a new dataset was created using feature selection methods on the existing dataset. Feature selection methods were preferred to simplify the models, facilitate their interpretation, and provide a shorter training time. Both datasets, created with and without feature selection methods, were trained and tested with Support Vector Machine (SVM), Naive Bayes (NB), Artificial Neural Network (ANN), and K-Nearest Neighbors (KNN) classification models. The test results showed that the use of the wrapper feature selection with a KNN classifier achieved the highest accuracy rate (98.3%) in DDoS attack detection. The results suggest that machine learning and feature selection algorithms can achieve better results in the detection of DDoS attacks in SDN with promising reductions in processing loads and times.