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Netzob : Inferring Communication Protocols

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 (developer mode) Netzob:

python build
python develop

and install it:

$ 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), its 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.