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Inferring communication protocols

Project Description

About Netzob

Functional Description

Netzob is an opensource tool for reverse engineering, traffic generation and fuzzing of communication protocols. This tool allows to infer the message format (vocabulary) and the state machine (grammar) of a protocol through passive and active processes. Its objective is to bring state of art academic researches to the operational field, by leveraging bio-informatic and grammatical inferring algorithms in a semi-automatic manner.

Netzob is suitable for reversing network protocols, structured files and system and process flows (IPC and communication with drivers and devices). Dedicated modules are provided to capture and import data in multiple contexts (network, file and process data acquisition). Once inferred, a protocol model can afterward be exported to third party tools (Peach, Scapy, Wireshark, etc.) or used in the traffic generation engine, to allow simulation of realistic and controllable communication endpoints and flows.

Netzob handles different types of protocols: text protocols (like HTTP and IRC), delimiter-based protocols, fixed fields protocols (like IP and TCP) and variable-length fields protocols (like TLV-based protocols).

Technical Description

Netzob’s source code is mostly made of Python (90%) with some specific extensions in C (6%). It includes a graphical interface based on GTK3.

The tool is made of a core (officially maintained) and of bunch of plugins (exporters, importers, …). Some plugins are provided by the team while others are created and managed directly by users.

More Information

Mailing list:Two lists are available, use the SYMPA web interface to register.
IRC:You can hang-out with us on Freenode’s IRC channel #netzob @
Wiki:Discuss strategy on Netzob’s wiki
Twitter:Follow Netzob’s official accounts (@Netzob)

Get Started with Netzob

Install it

There are two main ways of installing Netzob. The first one is based on per-OS installers while the other one is more ‘pythonic’.

We recommend the per-OS installers for ‘normal’ users while testers, developers and python experts might prefer the ‘pythonic’ way.

Per-OS Installers:

Please follow the specification documentations for each supported platform:

Debian/Ubuntu:Installation documentation on Debian (wiki)
Gentoo:Installation documentation on Gentoo (wiki)

Pythonic Installer:

As a ‘classic’ python project, Netzob is provided with its This file defines what and how to install the project on a python hosting OS.

This file depends on setuptools which like few other modules cannot be automatically installed. The reason why, you have to manually install the following bunch of prerequisites before initiating Netzob’s install process.

  • python
  • python-dev
  • python-impacket
  • libxml2-dev
  • libxslt-dev
  • python-setuptools
  • python-gi
  • gir1.2-gtk-3.0, gir1.2-glib-2.0, gir1.2-gdkpixbuf-2.0, gir1.2-pango-1.0
  • libgtk-3-0
  • graphviz

We also highly recommend to install the following additional dependencies:

  • python-babel (for the translations)
  • python-sphinx (for the documentation)

Once the required dependencies are installed, you can test Netzob in developer mode:

python build
python develop --user

Otherwise, if you want to install Netzob on the system:

python build
python develop
python install

Start it

Once installed, running Netzob is as simple as executing the provided script:

$ ./netzob

This script is in Python’s path if you’ve installed Netzob, otherwise (in developer mode), it’s located in the top distribution directory.


Configuration requirements for Network and PCAP input:

*Note: Capturing data from network interfaces often requires admin privileges. Before we provide a cleaner and secure way (see issue 425 on the bugtracker for updated information -, a possible HACK is to provide additionnal capabilities to the python binary.* ::
$ sudo setcap cap_net_raw=ep /usr/bin/python2.XX

Configuration requirements for IPC input on Ubuntu:

$ sudo bash -c "echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/yama/ptrace_scope"


The folder doc/documentation contains all the documentation of Netzob.

The user manual can be generated based on RST sources located in folder doc/documentation/source with the following command:

$ sphinx-build -b html doc/documentation/source/ doc/documentation/build/


There are multiple ways to help-us.

Defects and Features Requests

Help-us by reporting bugs and requesting features using the Bug Tracker.


Netzob has support for translation. Currently English and French languages are supported. New languages are welcome.

Join the Development Team

To participate in the development, you need to get the latest version, modify it and submit your changes.

These operations are detailed on Netzob’s wiki through the following pages:

You’re interested in joining, please contact-us !

Authors, Contributors and Sponsors

See the top distribution file AUTHORS.txt for the detailed and updated list of authors, contributors and sponsors.


This software is licensed under the GPLv3 License. See the COPYING.txt file in the top distribution directory for the full license text.


Zoby, the official mascot of Netzob

Zoby, the official mascot of Netzob.


v0.4.1 – 2013-02-02

Version name:WaddlingPeccary
  • Export plugins
    • Automatic generation of Wireshark dissectors
    • Automatic generation of Peach fuzzers
  • Workspaces and projects
    • Workspace manager
    • Project manager
    • Trace manager
  • Pretty print of XML files
  • Simplify the default Variable
  • Provide extra compile arguments to the build process

v0.4 – 2012-11-15

Version name:JumpingRhino
  • User interface
    • New user-friendly graphical interface
    • Port Netzob to GTK+3
    • Allow specification of logging level in the UI
  • New plugin architecture
  • Internationalization of Netzob
  • Vocabulary inference
    • Support of layers
    • Support customized transformation functions
    • Provide the edition of a variable
    • Support IPv4, MAC and random binary variables
    • Support filters for displayed messages
    • Allow export of a selection of fields as a new symbol
  • Import
    • Importer for OSpy projects
    • Allow user to specify the import layer (2,3 or 4) while importing network messages
    • Allow to keep delimiter while file importing. Indicate the position of the delimiter
  • Automatic Bug Reporter

v0.3.3 – 2012-06-06

Version name:FlyingRazorback
  • Graphical interface
    • Visualization and encoding filters
    • Mathematical filters (Base64, GZIP, BZ2)
    • Dedicated Search View
    • Preview of data rendering in contextual menu
    • Support format visualization at the symbol level
  • Partitioning
    • Alignment and sequencing by field
    • Execute alignment on specified symbols
    • Split field by the right
    • Allow the partitioning of messages with specified boundaries
    • Allow partitioning at the project and symbol level
    • Similarity score based on number of common dynamic elements
    • Optimization of Needleman : don’t repeat the same computation twice
    • Implement native UPGMA algorithm
  • Grammar inference
    • Infer the grammar of a network client
  • Project/trace management
    • Export / Import projects
    • Importer for XML formated traces

v0.3.2 – 2012-02-23

  • Upgrade Vocabulary Inference
    • Add Octal visualization
      • Feature #57: Resize columns
      • Feature #59: Allows to copy message/field to clipboard
      • Feature #60: Support simple alignment
      • Feature #62: Allow the deletion of multiple messages at a time
      • Feature #20: Show the current status of an alignment
      • Manual modification of the Regex of a field
    • Upgrade Grammar Inference
      • Feature #55: Dedicated GUI for the automatic inferring process
    • Upgrade Simulator
      • Feature #87: Specify source port for network simulator
  • Upgrade Import/Export and Traces Management
    • Feature #22: Activate the management of traces
    • Feature #61: Traces must be compressed when stored in the trace manager
    • Feature #92: Handle cooked socket (SLL) packet format
    • Feature #83: Support of human readable format export
    • Support Unicode for filenames
  • Extra
    • Workspace can be specified through a command line argument
    • Feature #73: Add manpage for Netzob
    • Feature #74: Add “.desktop” file in the official version
    • Apply pep8 quality repository on source code

v0.3.1 – 2012-01-12

  • Small fixes

v0.3 – 2012-01-12

  • Upgraded GUI and user experience
    • Add a menu
    • Simplify the Vocabulary inference panel
    • Add Workspaces and Projects definitions
  • Upgrade Vocabulary Inference
    • Add alignment based on an arbitrary delimitor
    • Identification of the definition domain of a field
    • Add support for environmental dependencies
    • Add new visualization of data encoding
      • Format: hex, string and binary
      • Unit size: bit, 8-bits, 16-bits, 32-bits and 64-bits
      • Sign: signed and unsigned
      • Endianess: big and little endian
    • Add concept of variable :
      • Include Binary Value
      • Include Word Value
      • Include Aggregate Value
      • Include Alternate Value
  • Add grammar inference module
    • Add the definition of the MMSTD model
    • Implementation of the Angluin L* algorithm
    • Implementation of the W-Method Algorithm
    • Add an alpha version of the automatic inferring process
  • Add simulation module
    • Supports Network Server and Client simulations
  • Add import modules : files and library calls
    • Add multiple files import
  • Extra

v0.2 – 2011-09-01

  • Add import modules : IPC, PCAP and Live network flows
  • Add export module : raw XML format
  • Improvement of Needleman and Wunsh performance with OpenMP

v0.1 – 2011-08-16

  • Initial release

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Filename, size & hash SHA256 hash help File type Python version Upload date
Netzob-0.4.1.linux-x86_64.tar.gz (1.1 MB) Copy SHA256 hash SHA256 Dumb Binary 2.7 Feb 2, 2013
Netzob-0.4.1.tar.gz (1.1 MB) Copy SHA256 hash SHA256 Source None Feb 2, 2013

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