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CA-95:01 CERT Advisory January 23, 1995 IP Spoofing Attacks and Hijacked Terminal Connections The CERT Coordination Center has received reports of attacks in which intruders create packets with spoofed source IP addresses. These attacks exploit applications that use authentication based on IP addresses. This exploitation leads to user and possibly root access on the targeted system. Note that this attack does not involve source routing. Recommended solutions are described in Section III below. In the current attack pattern, intruders may dynamically modify the kernel of a Sun 4.1.X system once root access is attained. In this attack, which is separate from the IP spoofing attack, intruders use a tool to take control of any open terminal or login session from users on the system. Note that although the tool is currently being used primarily on SunOS 4.1.x systems, the system features that make this attack possible are not unique to SunOS. As we receive additional information relating to this advisory, we will place it, along with any clarifications, in a CA-95:01.README file. CERT advisories and their associated README files are available by anonymous FTP from info.cert.org. We encourage you to check the README files regularly for updates on advisories that relate to your site. I. Description This description summarizes both the IP spoofing technique that can lead to root access on a system and the tool that intruders are using to take over open terminal and login connections after they get root access. We are currently seeing attacks in which intruders combine IP spoofing with use of the tool. However, these are two separate actions. Intruders can use IP spoofing to gain root access for any purpose; similarly, they can highjack terminal connections regardless of their method of gaining root access. IP spoofing To gain access, intruders create packets with spoofed source IP addresses. This exploits applications that use authentication based on IP addresses and leads to unauthorized user and possibly root access on the targeted system. It is possible to route packets through filtering-router firewalls if they are not configured to filter incoming packets whose source address is in the local domain. It is important to note that the described attack is possible even if no reply packets can reach the attacker. Examples of configurations that are potentially vulnerable include - routers to external networks that support multiple internal interfaces - routers with two interfaces that support subnetting on the internal network - proxy firewalls where the proxy applications use the source IP address for authentication The IP spoofing attacks we are currently seeing are similar to those described in two papers: 1) "Security Problems in the TCP/IP Protocol Suite" by Steve Bellovin, published in _Computer Communication Review_ vol. 19, no. 2 (April 1989) pages 32-48; 2) "A Weakness in the 4.2BSD Unix TCP/IP Software" by Robert T. Morris. Both papers are available by anonymous FTP from ftp.research.att.com:/dist/internet_security Bellovin paper: ipext.ps.Z Morris paper: 117.ps.Z Services that are vulnerable to the IP spoofing attack include SunRPC & NFS BSD UNIX "r" commands anything wrapped by the tcp daemon wrappers - site dependent; check your configuration X windows other applications that use source IP addresses for authentication Hijacking tool Once the intruders have root access on a system, they can use a tool to dynamically modify the UNIX kernel. This modification allows them to hijack existing terminal and login connections from any user on the system. In taking over the existing connections, intruders can bypass one-time passwords and other strong authentication schemes by tapping the connection after the authentication is complete. For example, a legitimate user connects to a remote site through a login or terminal session; the intruder hijacks the connection after the user has completed the authentication to the remote location; the remote site is now compromised. (See Section I for examples of vulnerable configurations.) Currently, the tool is used primarily on SunOS 4.1.x systems. However, the system features that make this attack possible are not unique to SunOS. II. Impact Current intruder activity in spoofing source IP addresses can lead to unauthorized remote root access to systems behind a filtering-router firewall. After gaining root access and taking over existing terminal and login connections, intruders can gain access to remote hosts. III. Solutions A. Detection IP spoofing If you monitor packets using network-monitoring software such as netlog, look for a packet on your external interface that has both its source and destination IP addresses in your local domain. If you find one, you are currently under attack. Netlog is available by anonymous FTP from net.tamu.edu:/pub/security/TAMU/netlog-1.2.tar.gz MD5 checksum: 1dd62e7e96192456e8c75047c38e994b Another way to detect IP spoofing is to compare the process accounting logs between systems on your internal network. If the IP spoofing attack has succeeded on one of your systems, you may get a log entry on the victim machine showing a remote access; on the apparent source machine, there will be no corresponding entry for initiating that remote access. Hijacking tool When the intruder attaches to an existing terminal or login connection, users may detect unusual activity, such as commands appearing on their terminal that they did not type or a blank window that will no longer respond to their commands. Encourage your users to inform you of any such activity. In addition, pay particular attention to connections that have been idle for a long time. Once the attack is completed, it is difficult to detect. However, the intruders may leave remnants of their tools. For example, you may find a kernel streams module designed to tap into existing TCP connections. B. Prevention IP spoofing The best method of preventing the IP spoofing problem is to install a filtering router that restricts the input to your external interface (known as an input filter) by not allowing a packet through if it has a source address from your internal network. In addition, you should filter outgoing packets that have a source address different from your internal network in order to prevent a source IP spoofing attack originating from your site. The following vendors have reported support for this feature: Bay Networks/Wellfleet routers, version 5 and later Cabletron - LAN Secure Cisco - RIS software all releases of version 9.21 and later Livingston - all versions If you need more information about your router or about firewalls, please contact your vendor directly. If your vendor's router does not support filtering on the inbound side of the interface or if there will be a delay in incorporating the feature into your system, you may filter the spoofed IP packets by using a second router between your external interface and your outside connection. Configure this router to block, on the outgoing interface connected to your original router, all packets that have a source address in your internal network. For this purpose, you can use a filtering router or a UNIX system with two interfaces that supports packet filtering. NOTE: Disabling source routing at the router does not protect you from this attack, but it is still good security practice to do so. Hijacking tool There is no specific way to prevent use of the tool other than preventing intruders from gaining root access in the first place. If you have experienced a root compromise, see Section C for general instructions on how to recover. C. Recovery from a UNIX root compromise 1. Disconnect from the network or operate the system in single-user mode during the recovery. This will keep users and intruders from accessing the system. 2. Verify system binaries and configuration files against the vendor's media (do not rely on timestamp information to provide an indication of modification). Do not trust any verification tool such as cmp(1) located on the compromised system as it, too, may have been modified by the intruder. In addition, do not trust the results of the standard UNIX sum(1) program as we have seen intruders modify system files in such a way that the checksums remain the same. Replace any modified files from the vendor's media, not from backups. — or -- Reload your system from the vendor's media. 3. Search the system for new or modified setuid root files. find / -user root -perm -4000 -print If you are using NFS or AFS file systems, use ncheck to search the local file systems. ncheck -s /dev/sd0a 4. Change the password on all accounts. 5. Don't trust your backups for reloading any file used by root. You do not want to re-introduce files altered by an intruder. The CERT Coordination Center thanks Eric Allman, Steve Bellovin, Keith Bostic, Bill Cheswick, Mike Karels, and Tsutomu Shimomura for contributing to our understanding of these problems and their solutions. If you believe that your system has been compromised, contact the CERT Coordination Center or your representative in Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). If you wish to send sensitive incident or vulnerability information to CERT staff by electronic mail, we strongly advise that the e-mail be encrypted. The CERT Coordination Center can support a shared DES key, PGP (public key available via anonymous FTP on info.cert.org), or PEM (contact CERT staff for details). Internet E-mail: email@example.com Telephone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline) CERT personnel answer 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. EST(GMT-5)/EDT(GMT-4), and are on call for emergencies during other hours. Fax: +1 412-268-6989 CERT Coordination Center Software Engineering Institute Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890 USA Past advisories, CERT bulletins, information about FIRST representatives, and other information related to computer security are available for anonymous FTP from info.cert.org. CERT is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.
[The CERT advisory is the previous item in this issue. Also, see John Markoff's front-page story in yesterday's editions of The New York Times, 23 Jan 1995. PGN] There's a great deal of confusion about what kind of attack the recent CERT advisory is referring to. Let me try to clear things up. The specific attack is a sequence number guessing attack, originally described by R.T. Morris in Bell Labs Computer Science Technical Report #117, February 25, 1985. I generalized (and publicized) the attack in my 1989 paper ``Security Problems in the TCP/IP Protocol Suite'', Computer Communications Review 19:2, April 1989, pp. 32-48 (URLs below). Both his attack and my generalizations are special cases of a more general attack, IP source address spoofing, in which the attacker illegitimately uses a trusted machine's IP address in conjunction with some protocol (such as rsh) that does address-based authentication. In order to understand the particular case of sequence number guessing, you have to look at the 3-way handshake used in the TCP open sequence. Suppose client machine A wants to talk to rsh server B. It sends the following message: A->B: SYN, ISSa That is, it sends a packet with the SYN (``synchronize sequence number'') bit set and an initial sequence number ISSa. B replies with B->A: SYN, ISSb, ACK(ISSa) In addition to sending its own initial sequence number, it acknowledges A's. Note that the actual numeric value ISSa must appear in the message. A concludes the handshake by sending A->B: ACK(ISSb) The initial sequence numbers are intended to be more or less random. More precisely, RFC 793 specifies that the 32-bit counter be incremented by 1 in the low-order position about every 4 microseconds. Instead, Berkeley-derived kernels increment it by 128 every second, and 64 for each new connection. Thus, if you open a connection to a machine, you know to a very high degree of confidence what sequence number it will use for its next connection. And therein lies the attack. The attacker X first opens a real connection to its target B — say, to the mail port or the TCP echo port. This gives ISSb. It then impersonates A and sends A->B: SYN, ISSx B's response to X's original SYN (so to speak) B->A: SYN, ISSb', ACK(ISSx) goes to the legitimate A, about which more anon. X never sees that message but can still send A->B: ACK(ISSb') using the predicted value for ISSb'. If the guess is right — and usually it will be — B's rsh server thinks it has a legitimate connection with A, when in fact X is sending the packets. X can't see the output from this session, but it can execute commands as more or less any user — and in that case, the game is over and X has won. There is a minor difficulty here. If A sees B's message, it will realize that B is acknowledging something it never sent, and will send a RST packet in response to tear down the connection. There are a variety of ways to prevent this; the easiest is to wait until the real A is down (possibly as a result of enemy action, of course). There are several possible defenses. Most obvious is to take advantage of topological knowledge: don't let packets purporting to be from a local machine arrive on an outside interface. That works very well if you only trust local machines. If trust is granted to outside machines (say, via .rhosts files) and if the attacker can identify the patterns of trust (which isn't that difficult), the topological solution won't work. In that case, you have to block all protocols that use TCP and address-based authentication. (UDP is a separate can of worms.) Best of all, don't use address-based authentication; it's a disaster waiting to happen. The only real solution is cryptographic authentication. Firewalls based on tcpd have a special problem: address-based authentication is their business. If you have a set of rules that grants special permission to inside addresses, and you don't use a screening router as well, you may be vulnerable. The question is this: can an attacker do damage by just sending commands and not seeing any output? If the answer is yes, you are vulnerable. --Steve Bellovin For further information, see the two papers cited above: ftp://ftp.research.att.com/dist/internet_security/117.ps.Z ftp://ftp.research.att.com/dist/internet_security/ipext.ps.Z
[Excerpted with permission from Phil's The Network Observer] Bouncemail top ten. In running a large mailing list for the past year or so, I have become acquainted with a depressing variety of dysfunctional mail handling software. I've gathered here my top ten least favorite phenomena in hopes that a Universal Union of Large List Maintainers might spring up to force them to get fixed: 10. Mailers that give intermittent "user unknown" messages for users who perfectly well exist, perhaps because they cannot detect transient local network problems well enough to postpone delivering mail. 9. The confusion over the Errors-To: field, which sure seems like a good idea to me but which apparently is not part of the standard. It is supported by most but not all mailers. If it didn't exist then I'd have to run my mailing list from a separate account. 8. Mailers that generate messages lacking well-formed headers, most commonly addresses like "someone@local" without proper domain information. 7. Mailers that tell me "Press F1 for help with VNM error codes" even though my function keys are unlikely to be programmed the same way as they are for users at the site that generates the bouncemail message. In general, mailers designed on the assumption that all senders and recipients of messages would use that same mailer -- particularly when the mailer in question does not think in terms of standard IP domain formats. 6. Mailers that complain that a certain message could not be delivered but do not specify who in particular the message could not be delivered to. Also, mailers that complain that a forwarded message could not be delivered without providing any indication of what address(es) the message was forwarded from. 5. Vacation programs that respond to bulk or mailing-list mail or that do not keep track of who they've replied to, with the result that I get batches of spurious vacation messages (sometimes in German) as each holiday approaches. 4. Mailers that generate mail that cannot be replied to. Sometimes a message says "From: Fred_Q_Smith@foobar.com", even though the user's account is actually called "fqs". Sometimes I have no idea why I cannot reply to a message, and the mailer offers me no help in figuring it out. This is particularly annoying when the sender in question starts sending further messages to the effect of, "you should reply to my messages, you rude person!" It is even more annoying when the machine that generated the bogus message does not have a "postmaster" alias defined. 3. Mailers that take a month before giving up on the delivery of messages to a missing user, whereupon they initiate a monthlong stream of error messages, individually, for every one of the messages I've sent in the last month. 2. Mail-reading programs that automatically generate a little message to the effect of "so-and-so read your message about "routine administrative notes" on December 3rd at 08:41" — even when the message was sent to a mailing list and not directly to the person reading it. The people whose mail readers generate these messages are usually not aware of them, and their site maintainers usually do not know how to shut them off. 1. The astoundingly baroque and uninformative error messages that I have gotten from the Novell mailer. Of course errors happen. The basic point here is that the error messages are so incomprehensible, so incomplete, so inconsistent, and so difficult to adjust or control. The right way to do this, in my view, would be for mailers to be talking to one another and maintaining updated status tables for the process of delivering (or not delivering) each message. A reasonable amount of useful information could travel over these lines of communication, and my mailer could consequently provide me with some significantly more useful functionalities. Imagine a GUI interface with a window showing the messages that got bounced, deferred, and so forth. And imagine that I could just click on each one to say, in one nice clean operation, "okay, let's just take this person off the mailing list, send them a nice explanatory note in case they're magically back on-line, and expunge from the system all remaining traces of existing messages from me to them or error messages from these mailers about them".
Some readers of RISKS will recall numerous previous articles about suboptimal behavior of the electronic postal stamp vending machines which have been appearing in United States Post Offices over the past few years. I am one of the many people who at one point or another has lost money in one of the machines. However, this message isn't about that; it's about a case I witnessed recently in which the vending machine *almost* got it right, but still has a few kinks that need to be worked out. On the first business day after the recent US postal rate increase, I went to the Post Office to buy some new stamps. Of course, it was a madhouse, because everyone else had the same idea I did. However, although the line in front of the service windows was many people long, there were only one person using the vending machine, with no line behind him. I therefore decided to get in line behind him, since I had enough crisp bills (or so I thought) to buy stamps from the machine. The man was standing in front of the machine, whose LED display claimed that he had a $5.00 credit (presumably because of a five-dollar bill he'd inserted), trying to get the machine to take a one-dollar bill (he wanted to buy a book of twenty 32-cent stamps for $6.40). The bill slot in the machine wasn't pulling in his bill part way and then rejecting it, as you might expect it to do if it could not verify the bill. The slot wasn't engaging at all, i.e., the man was pushing the bill into the slot over and over, and nothing was happening. He did this five or ten times, then stopped, turned around to look at the service windows as if trying to attract someone's attention, wavered momentarily as if contemplating actually going over to the windows to ask for assistance, and then turned around and started shoving the bill at the bill slot again. He repeated this cycle three or four times, with me standing there thinking, "Look, idiot, if the slot wouldn't take the bill the first time, it isn't going take it the hundredth time either," and wondering why he didn't just buy a booklet of ten stamps and come back for more later. Finally, he got up the courage to go over to the windows and ask for help. A few seconds after he walked away from the machine, it started beeping, with the LED display asking if he needed more time, and saying that if he didn't press the "YES" button he'd lose his money. Since I'm a nice guy, I pressed the "YES" button for him. Meanwhile, the woman he was talking to at a service window was telling him something to the effect of, "Well, I don't know anything about the vending machine. You'll have to talk to <so-and-so>. She's in charge of it. She's in back right now. Hold on, I'll send her out. Go back to the machine and wait for her." So, the man went back to the machine and stood there waiting. I said to him, "Why don't you just buy a booklet of ten stamps and come back later for more?" He said, gesturing at the sign on the machine which says that change over a dollar is given in dollars, "Because then I'll lose money." I'm not sure what gave him that impression, but I explained to him that what the sign meant was that the machine issues Susan B. Anthony dollars when it has to issue change of more than a dollar. Once he understood that, he went ahead and pushed the button sequence for the booklet of ten stamps. The machine then spit his five-dollar bill out of the bill slot and informed him on the LED display that it was currently unable to issue change of over a dollar. At this point, the woman "in charge of" the vending machine showed up and asked what the story was. The man told her what had happened, and she basically repeated everything he'd done (putting in his five-dollar bill, trying repeatedly to get the machine to take the additional one-dollar bill, giving up and trying to buy ten stamps, getting back the five-dollar bill), at which point she said, "Well, I don't know what's wrong. I guess you'll just have to get in line with everybody else." At this point, I decided that trying to use the vending machine myself would not be a productive endeavor, so I picked up a copy of the USPS stamps-by-mail pamphlet and walked out. It was only when I'd made it out of the Post Office a few steps that I realized what astute RISKS readers have realized already — the vending machine's behavior made perfect sense, and was in reality protecting the user from losing money, although its user interface needs some improvement. As I see it, the explanation for the machine's behavior is as follows.... Most bill readers, in vending machines, change machines, etc., can only return to the user the last bill inserted into the machine. I.e., if I insert a five-dollar bill into a reader and then a one-dollar bill, the reader can return the one-dollar bill to me if necessary, but the five-dollar bill is lost in the innards of the machine. The stamp machine in this case was programmed to know that it couldn't give back more than a dollar in change (presumably because its supply of dollar coins was exhausted), and also to know that if it allowed the user to insert more than one bill, it might not be able to give back adequate change after the user completed his purchase. For example, if the user inserted two five-dollar bills and then purchased $6.40 worth of stamps, the machine would have to issue $3.60 in change, which it couldn't do. It therefore refused to accept the second bill. So, what are the problems? I see several: 1) The machine should have told him on its display that it couldn't accept any more bills, after he inserted the first bill. 2) Instructions should have been displayed on the machine or on a placard within sight of the machine, explaining the machine's behavior when it runs out of dollar coins. 3) Better yet, there should be a light on the machine, with the words, "When lit, only one bill per purchase will be accepted, and money deposited into machine must be less than one dollar above purchase price of desired item," and it should be lit at the right time. 4) The woman "in charge of" the machine should have a clue about how it works. I suspect that the USPS just wheels the machines into Post Offices, sets them down, says, "Here you go, a new vending machine!" and then periodically comes back to empty the money and restock them. Perhaps they should invest a little in training at least one person at each Post Office to know how the machines work. 5) The USA really needs a dollar coin in common circulation :-). Jonathan Kamens | OpenVision Technologies, Inc. | firstname.lastname@example.org
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