App-ID Overview

App-ID, a patented traffic classification system only available in Palo Alto Networks firewalls, determines what an application is irrespective of port, protocol, encryption (SSH or SSL) or any other evasive tactic used by the application. It applies multiple classification mechanisms—application signatures, application protocol decoding, and heuristics—to your network traffic stream to accurately identify applications.
Here's how App-ID identifies applications traversing your network:
  • Traffic is matched against policy to check whether it is allowed on the network.
  • Signatures are then applied to allowed traffic to identify the application based on unique application properties and related transaction characteristics. The signature also determines if the application is being used on its default port or it is using a non-standard port. If the traffic is allowed by policy, the traffic is then scanned for threats and further analyzed for identifying the application more granularly.
  • If App-ID determines that encryption (SSL or SSH) is in use, and a Decryption policy rule is in place, the session is decrypted and application signatures are applied again on the decrypted flow.
  • Decoders for known protocols are then used to apply additional context-based signatures to detect other applications that may be tunneling inside of the protocol (for example, Yahoo! Instant Messenger used across HTTP). Decoders validate that the traffic conforms to the protocol specification and provide support for NAT traversal and opening dynamic pinholes for applications such as SIP and FTP.
  • For applications that are particularly evasive and cannot be identified through advanced signature and protocol analysis, heuristics or behavioral analysis may be used to determine the identity of the application.
When the application is identified, the policy check determines how to treat the application, for example—block, or allow and scan for threats, inspect for unauthorized file transfer and data patterns, or shape using QoS.

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