Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Transport layer for stealth and evil, 2014 edition

A few years ago, I tested some obscure transport protocols on Ubuntu 10.04 and whether you could find processes listening for them on your system. Answer was - it depends.

Fast forward a few years, RHEL7 and CentOS 7 appears. Long-deprecated netstat is gone from the default install.

So let's repeat the tests for weird backdoors.


yum install socat

ss(8) is the official replacement for netstat(8).

So what does ss see?

# ss -anp | grep socat

Nothing. netstat used to see this on Red Hat-derived distros, so a slight regression you might say. But ss didn't see it in 2010 either.

Lsof has improved, though, and identifies it correctly this time.
 # lsof | grep socat
socat 10790 root 3u sock 30501 0t0 SCTP ENDPT:ffff88003b23df00[8080]


Well, first we need to get netsend up and running. Basically yum install gcc, and get the source from the ubuntu package. The original berlios upstream seems to be gone.

# netsend dccp receive

This sets up a listener at dccp port 6666.

# ss -anp | grep netsend
tcp LISTEN 0 0 *:6666 users:((netsend,11050,3))

Um, yes, it shows up ... but looks like a TCP socket? WTF?

telnet localhost 6666
gives connection refused as expected. This will definitely confuse somebody.

# ss -anpd
LISTEN 0 0 *:6666

So with the -d option (for dccp) it shows sane data.

What about lsof then?
# lsof | grep netsend
netsend 11050 root 3u sock 0,6 0t0 33020 protocol: DCCP

Well, better than before. It at least identifies the protocol, if not the details.


This massively popular protocol then?

# netsend udplite receive

Sets up a listener at port 6666, again.

# ss -anp | grep netsend

Blank, as in 2010. And there's no udplite option.

lsof then?

# lsof | grep netsend
netsend 17664 root 3u IPv4 38944 0t0 UDPLITE *:6666

Yeah, no problem, identifies it perfectly.


Hiding a backdoor in plain sight with an uncommon protocol is still viable, though local firewalls will mitigate. ss(8) still doesn't give you all the info it ideally should, probably because of some missing plumbing. lsof(8) is still a useful swiss army knife slowly getting more tools.

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