Neohapsis is currently accepting applications for employment. For more information, please visit our website www.neohapsis.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
[VulnDiscuss] Re: [VulnWatch] Algorithmic Complexity Attacks and the Linux Networking Code
From: Andreas Gietl (a.gietle-admin.de)
Date: Sun May 18 2003 - 09:00:47 CDT
On Saturday 17 May 2003 23:12, Florian Weimer wrote:
looks like there is another patch for that problem inlcuded in
from the changelog:
o [NET]: Fix hashing exploits in ipv4 routing, IP conntrack, and TCP synq
But it looks like this patch is not the same as the one from redhat.
> Algorithmic Complexity Attacks and the Linux Networking Code
> The Linux networking code makes extensive use of hash tables to
> implement caches to support packet classification. One of these
> caches, the routing cache, can be used to mount effective denial of
> service attacks, using an algorithmic complexity attack.
> The Linux Routing Cache
> The routing cache (or "dst cache") caches routing decisions for a
> traffic flow. A traffic flow consists of packets which have the
> same IPv4 source and destination address and the same TOS value in
> the IP header. These flows are unidirectional; for a two-way
> communication, two flows exist, one in each direction. Even if the
> cache is also called "dst cache" for historical reasons, the cache
> covers more than just destination addresses.
> When a packet arrives, the kernel must route it. The IP routing
> code checks for a suitable traffic flow and reuses the cached
> routing decisions, if possible. Otherwise, it makes a new routing
> decision and creates a new traffic flow, by updating the routing
> cache accordingly. This routing occurs on single-homed host with
> disabled IP forwarding as well as on full-table routers.
> The routing cache is implemented as a hash table, in a rather
> particular way. The bucket count is an integral power of two which
> is fixed on system boot and scaled according to the amount of
> physical RAM. The hash function is GF(2)-linear (which means that
> it is easy to find collisions). Collision chaining is used to
> store different entries which hash to the same bucket. A garbage
> collection mechanism ensures that the size of the cache stays below
> the configured maximum entry count. This entry count is scaled
> with available system memory, too.
> Note that there are additional hash tables in the networking code.
> For example, IP connection tracking adds an additional hash table
> (which uses a different, but still rather weak hash table).
> The Attack
> Our attack is targeted at a host and uses packets with carefully
> chosen source addresses and TOS values to trigger collisions in the
> lower bits of the routing cache hash function. (Note that these
> collisions have nothing to do with colliding packets on the wire.)
> As a result, all these packets create distinct flows which are
> stored in a linear list hooked to a single bucket to a hash table.
> In essence, this reduces the hash table to a linear list, and
> finding entries becomes extremely expensive when the list is very
> long. (This effect is detailed in the paper cited below.)
> The effectiveness of the attack depends significantly on the
> maximum size of routing cache. As described above, the default
> maximum size depends on the amount of physical RAM present in the
> machine. Therefore, machines with more RAM are more vulnerable if
> they operate in the default configuration. For example, we were
> able to freeze a machine with four gigabytes of RAM with a stream
> of about 400 packets per second. (The same machine remained
> unaffected when we used random source addresses instead of source
> addresses that lead to collisions in the hash function.)
> Of course, the hash function is extremely simple, but this is not
> source of the problem. Even though it is possible to find
> collisions by solving a rather small system of linear equations
> over the field of two elements, the main problem results from the
> fact that the attacker can determine the hash bucket for traffic
> flows (and send packets based on that information).
> Red Hat published a security advisory which includes a patch (see
> below) which changes the hash function to a non-linear, keyed hash
> function. While the the hash function is not cryptographically
> strong, it is certainly much more complicated (if not even
> impossible) for an attacker to trigger collisions. (As an
> additional protection, the key is changed every ten minutes.) In
> our experience, the patch, applied to stock Linux 2.4.20, works
> reasonably well in typical denial of service situations.
> If you cannot apply the patch and are confronted with an attack of
> this type, there are two options to protect machines: setting rate
> limits using iptables, or decreasing the routing cache size.
> Choosing suitable rate limits is very complicated, so it is not
> recommended. You can decrease the routing cache size using the
> /proc interface. (If the total size of the cache is reduced, the
> maximum length of a collision chain is reduced, too, and this
> particular attack is no longer possible.) As root, run the
> following commands:
> # echo 4096 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/route/max_size
> # echo 2048 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/route/gc_thresh
> (On most systems, you can edit /etc/sysctl.conf to make these
> changes permanent.)
> However, note that this approach of decreasing the cache size has a
> severe impact on routing performance if the number of parallel
> flows processed by the machine exceeds the maximum routing cache
> Frequently Asked Questions
> * How significant is this problem?
> The Linux IP stack is not very robust against various types of
> denial of service attacks. As a result, this problem is
> unlikely to have any practical consequences. We recommend to
> apply the patch to fix this problem during routine maintenance
> and not to change the maximum routing cache size preventively
> because of the potential performance impact.
> * Are other vendors affected by the problem?
> At this time, we do not believe that Cisco IOS routers or
> machines running Solaris or one of the BSD variants are
> affected. However, only source code inspection can reveal if a
> product is affected, and vendors are encouraged to verify that
> their products are unaffected. Flow-based routing using hash
> tables is particularly prone to this vulnerability, and
> implementations of this principle should therefore be
> * Is exploit code available publicly?
> To our knowledge, this kind of attack is currently (May 2003)
> not in the wild, and no widely available attack tools support
> * Does this attack affect only affects routers?
> No, it is also relevant for hosts. The routing cache includes
> both source and destination addresses, and it is possible to
> spoof source addresses accordingly. However, routers are at
> somewhat greater risk because to attack them, you can choose
> the destination addresses in a way that trigger collisions
> which does not require root privileges (or special IP packet
> generation code) on the attacking host.
> * I've read that it is impossible to spoof source addresses on the
> current Internet, thanks to ingress filtering, so this attack is
> not a problem, right?
> While proper ingress (and egress) filtering is a standard
> practice to reduce source address spoofing, it isn't
> universally applied throughout the Internet. A lot of denial
> of service attacks still use spoofed source addresses and
> arrive at the intended victim.
> * Is it possible to use rate limits to counter the attack?
> It is possible, but not recommended. To protect machines which
> large amounts of memory in default configurations, ridiculously
> low rate limits would be required which would enable denial of
> service attacks on their own. Note that all rate limits which
> protect the routing cache have to be applied in the PREROUTING
> chain, as the standard INPUT chain is processed after a packet
> has already updated the routing cache.
> * Netfilter connection tracking uses a huge hash table as well.
> Is it affected?
> Yes, we believe that it is affected by the essentially same
> problem. The Red Hat patch corrects Netfilter connection
> tracking, too.
> * Will the Red Hat patch fix other performance issues with the
> routing cache?
> Unfortunately, the answer is no. We now have multiple reports
> that Linux routers break down according to the inefficiency of
> the routing cache under stress, at incredible low packet rates.
> These problems continue to exist and are likely to persist
> until the kernel developers eliminate the routing cache.
> * Why took it so long before this bug was fixed?
> Kernel developers were contacted at the beginning of April,
> when the issue was independently discovered in the Linux
> kernel, not in February, when the first technical report was
> written by Scott Crosby and Dan Wallach.
> * Scott A. Crosby, Dan S. Wallach, Denial of Service via
> Algorithmic Complexity Attacks
> * Red Hat, Updated 2.4 kernel fixes security vulnerabilities and
> various bugs
> * The patch for Linux 2.4.20 that has been published by Red Hat
> * Most current version of this document
e-admin internet gmbh
Andreas Gietl tel +49 941 3810884
Ludwig-Thoma-Strasse 35 fax +49 89 244329104
93051 Regensburg mobil +49 171 6070008
PGP/GPG-Key unter http://www.e-admin.de/gpg.html