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Black Ops 2004

@ LayerOne

Dan Kaminsky
Who am I?
 Senior Security Consultant, Avaya
Enterprise Security Practice
 Author of “Paketto Keiretsu”, a collection of
advanced TCP/IP manipulation tools
 Speaker at Black Hat Briefings
 BlackOps of TCP/IP series
 Gateway Cryptography w/ OpenSSH

 Protocol Geek
What’s On The Plate for
/* char descrip[256] = “You’ll see”; */
What is DNS
DNS: Domain Name System
 Mechanism for translating human-readable names
into machine routable addresses
“Like 411 for the Internet”
 As 411 usually but not always yields simple phone
numbers, DNS usually but not always yields IP
 A: Given name, find IP
 MX: Given name, find Mail

 PTR: Given IP, find name

 TXT: Given name, find “stuff”

“Useful” Traits of DNS
(Very Very Abridged)
 .com says where to find addresses in, and says where to find addresses in
Recursive vs. Iterative Lookups
 Iterative Lookup: Ask a server a question, it tells you where
to go to find out the answer
 Recursive Lookup: Ask a server, it goes out and finds out
the answer for you, and tells you
 It queries the hierarchy…which you may control
 Responses contain a TTL – Time To Live – within which
future requests don’t require another message to be sent
Primary Research Areas
for DNS
 1999-2000 were filled with exploits against
BIND, the most common DNS server
 Not terribly vulnerable now

DNS Spoofing
 Returningfalse addresses = hijack
people’s outgoing net connections
DNS Tunneling
DNS Tunneling [1]
 Client -> Server
 What’s the information for BATCH-OF-ENCODED-
 Server -> Client
 The information? Why, it’s “HERES-THAT-DATA-YOU-
 DNS is extremely permeable – it will route through
architectures where often nothing else will
 Captive portals for Wireless Internet
 “More” ;-)
Starting Simple:
DNS Tunneling [0]
 NSTX most popular
 Creates a “virtual network device” that routes IP
(actually, Ethernet frames) over DNS
 Linux Only

 Rumorsof various botnets / malware using

DNS as a covert channel
DNS Tunneling[2]:
Entering Userspace
Starting “Simple”
 NSTX requires kernel cooperation to get at IP
 Lets make something that doesn’t require the
kernel, but still allows remote networking
 Remote Networking: “I’m on this network, but all my
traffic is routed through that network over there –
preferably securely”
 Normally done with VPNs (also kernel level)

 SSH Dynamic Forwarding allows secure remote

networking over a single TCP port (Poor Man’s VPN)
 So lets start with SSH over DNS
DNS Tunneling[3]:
DNS is not TCP
 TCP moves bytestreams, DNS moves records
 Blocks of data
 TCP lets either side speak first, while in DNS, the
server can only talk if the client asks something
 TCP is 8 bit clean, while DNS can only move a
limited set of characters in each direction (Base64)
 This seems so familiar…
DNS Tunneling[4]:
The semantics of DNS are surprisingly similar to
those of HTTP
Many tools have been written with the “lets tunnel
everything over HTTP” methodology because it gets
through firewalls easier (see first point)
Those tools that support small message sizes (like
GNU httptunnel) can be quickly modified to use DNS
as an alternate transport
 Must use separate streams for upstream vs. downstream,
since downstream reflects all data from upstream (similar to
HTTP, but on a per packet basis)
But DNS has a feature HTTP servers don’t…
DNS Tunneling[5]:
Recursive Redux
Recursive lookup: Ask another host to
iterate through the hierarchy to find your
 Why, it’s as if every web server was also a
web proxy...
 Simple Trick: Bounce your traffic off any
DNS server (like, for instance, a captive
portal’s DNS for free WiFi)
 But there’s better…
DNS Tunneling[6]:
Set em up…
Some DNS servers are dual hosted
 External interface is sending names out
 Internal interface is bringing names in
 Two interfaces because one is behind the firewall
and one is in front
Subdomain Delegation
 It is possible to claim that “” is
hosted at an arbitrary name server with an
arbitrary IP address
 …even if you yourself can’t route to that address…
 …someone else can…
DNS Tunneling[7]:
…and knock em down
Incoming SSH to Protected Networks via
Recursive DNS
 1. Wrap SSHD in dns-ized httptunnel
 2. Request that remote DNS daemon look up a subdomain
of a domain you control. Tell that DNS it’ll find the answer it
seeks at the internal server with the SSHD-DNS.
 3. SSHD-DNS receives forwarded request, responds to it.
Remote DNS daemon forwards that response back to you.
 4. Continue with normal SSH over DNS semantics.
Note: This is actually a bad thing
Changing the Gameplan
Most tricks require a DNS server under the
requester’s control
 The client and the final server conspire against the
recursive server in the middle
But what if there is no DNS server under the
client’s control?
 What can a client do with queries alone?
 Can two clients communicate with eachother
through a DNS server?
DNS Cache
DNS stores the results of queries, along with a TTL (Time To
 Well known Information Leakage: If someone else looked up a site
first, the TTL is different.
 Example:
 root@bsd:~# dig @; sleep 100; dig
 First Reply: 4H IN A
 Second Reply: 3h58m19s IN A
 Destructive – If nobody else made a particular query, then the probe
becomes the standard bearer for max seconds.
 Not well known: Two hosts can communicate with eachother
through the state change introduced by a particular query
 Possibly the lowest bandwidth channel available, at 1 bit per query
DNS Cache
Temporal Bit Mapping
 The sender requests a low traffic, preferably low TTL name
from the server.
 The receiver requests the same name, and sees it at some
decremented TTL value. It thus knows at approximately
what time the cache entry will expire.
 Within some “sender window” after expiration, the sender
either does (1) or does not (0) issue another request for the
same name
 Within some “receiver window”, the receiver checks the
name after the window expiration. IF the TTL is max, then
the bit was 0. IF the TTL is not max, then the bit was 1.
 Capacity = 1 bit per Max TTL period (slowwww)
DNS Cache
“Spatial Bit Mapping”
 Spread the load across multiple names, probably
each retrieved off a wildcard server
 Wildcard – still resolves
 Bits are “set” within a setting window
 Bits are destructively read within a reading
window, using an identical TTL strategy.
 Next series of bits may be sent when TTL of last
sent request by the sender expires.
 Capacity = 1 bit per name per Max TTL period
DNS Cache
 Simply use two separate channels, or timeshare one
 It’s just a shared medium
 Anything that can be changed by one and seen by another
can be used to send data
 Web Counters
 IP ID counters in IP Stacks
 Whether a car was washed
 “Did it increment or not? Were there sharp spikes between
6:01 and 6:02?”
 “You can always send a bit” – can we send more?
History of DNS Storage
Long history of storing data in DNS
 Means
 TXT records
 AXFR Zone Transfer (can be arbitrarily large, but doesn’t
work from almost any restricted network since it’s TCP)
 Downsides
 Very inefficient – packet size (w/o AXFR) is locked below
512 bytes, and you only get a little more than half of the
packet filled with a payload
 DNS can get really slow, especially under load

 Upsides
 Everyone has a DNS server, and it caches
What do we have?
A Very Dynamic DNS server
 A Desire to Send More Than A Bit
 Fine, I’ll go host a name on a server
A challenge to send something new
What do we get?
Voice over DNS – TXT w/ Streaming Audio
Speex codec supports Voice compression at
~2kbps (best public codec)
 Ends up (with headers) being about 356
 We can traffic 356 bytes per second through even
extremely slow DNS servers
Power to the Caching People
 Use a TTL of WINDOW seconds (~20s)
 All listeners behind the same DNS server will split
the same “stream”
Server HOWTO
 <timestamp>
 TXT (or MX) = 1.0s or 0.5s of audio

 CNAME to <window>.<timestamp>
 TTL=0

 This may be broken by resolvers with minimum TTL

requirements (implemented to fight Dynamic DNS server

Client HOWTO
 Retrieve, learn
 Retrieve audio samples from <timestamp-
window> up through
 Prefer to start playing at a packet that has spent some
time decrementing in the cache – binary search for
oldest sample within the window
 Add random jitter for the start sample – this way,
everyone’s at a different point in the stream, and if the
“lead looker” drops, someone else will be next up to be
first in line
Alternate Implementation: Proxy-Friendly
HTTP Streaming
 Abandon DNS entirely; simply distribute 3-10s
chunks of audio over HTTP and let proxy servers
share them out
 Requires client cooperation, and greatly increases
latency, but solves the (bandwidth) problem that
proxies don’t cache streams
 Proxies don’t support TTLs, though – a server side
script would need to monitor that
 HTTP of course supports much higher bandwidth!
Everything we’ve done with DNS is slow and
low bandwidth?
 DNS servers store little data, and may return it
relatively slowly
Can’t we go any faster? Is there no DNS
“solution” with capacity?
 Many hands make light work
 There are many many many DNS servers
 And almost all of them cache.
The basic concept
 Normal DNS operation: Talk to your own server; it
retrieves data on demand from the official server
 Domaincast DNS operation: Talk to servers with
different blocks preloaded into their cache; each of
those blocks refers to the location of other cached
blocks. Upstream server has actually preloaded
data (through directed queries) into all of the
 This is possible. This is not necessarily a good idea.
Don’t try this at home.
Sidestepping Limited Resources
 Capacity
 20K/server = ~80 records @ 256bytes
 700MB = Knoppix, a full Linux distribution

 700MB / 20K = 35,000 servers required

 Number of DNS servers detected in a single class A:
+140,000 (More on this later)
 Speed
 1Kb/s * 35,000 = 35MB/s
 Would require upload of ~3.5MB/s
 ~50% packet / formatting overhead = 17MB/s
 Not going to achieve peak bandwidth (it’d shred
reliability) – but not going to get 1k/s either
Packet Formats
 Request: <offset>.<filename>
 Reply – Either TXT or MX
 TXT – Base64 Representation of Fixed Size Struct
(describing file size, byte offset, data, and other servers)
 MX – Can also represent data as mail server addresses
 Requires dots every 64 characters
 Responses are reordered randomly – must sort by
 Some headaches with extra information being
 MX may stress BIND servers more (triggers search tree)
Basic Mode – All packets retrieved from
master server, provide linked list
pointers to same host
 = first block, here for
 = second block, here
for third
 Etc.
Population via Brute Force
Simplest Approach:
 Find enough servers that recurse
 DNS servers don’t move rapidly -> Scan amortizes well
across many populations
 Plan out who’s going to store which blocks
 Populate servers with data, references to planned
other servers
 Easy to validate caching, though not easy to fix a
broken reference
 Can populate out of order – 64 populating, verifying
Reverse Serial Propagation
The problem: To populate the first server, you need
the address of the second server. But to populate
the second, you need the addr of the third. What to
Answer: Populate backwards. The last server
points nowhere. The second to last points to the last.
The third to last points to the second to last.
 Multi-server – last server can equal “last server group”.
 Server groups may be larger than packet capacity to list servers
– just include a random set
Reverse Serial Propagation
Can be quickly and statelessly deployed
 Scan networks with generic recursive probe
 For each incoming request seeking to service the
probe, return whatever(TTL=0) and probe with an
actual block request
 If a block request comes back from the recurser,
populate the server
 If the population packet drops, the upstream should
 Move back through the file after each server group
fills up
 Can be much slower to populate!
Large Scale DNS
Modding the scanrand codebase…
 Basic scanrand concept: One half spews traffic, the other
sees what comes back. Little to no communication between
the two halves = fast!
 Scanrand manages TCP; statelessness is a bit of a novelty
to it. DNS is built on UDP, raw packet manipulation isn’t
even necessary (it was useful, though).
 Reflection: Stateless operation depends on sending packets
out and forgetting, only to have the necessary data returned
back in the response packet
 TCP barely reflects back 48 bits worth of data
 DNS reflects back whatever was in the query = thousands of
bits if you want ‘em!
 Crypto signatures can be embedded in the reflection
Large Scale DNS
Floodable DNS Queries implemented by
 Is anyone there, recursive or not?
 Many hosts that don’t support recursion will at least
provide a “NXDOMAIN”, but not all will
 We need a generic query that appears to almost always
 PTR -> = localhost
 Everyone is localhost 

 Will you recurse back to me?

Large Scale DNS
Returned Results
 Direct:You requested, they responded.
 Forward Lookup: You requested, they
requested back to you, you responded.
 Often not the server that you asked that asks
 Reverse Lookup: You requested…and
someone wondered who you were asking
such questions
Large Scale DNS
More on Reverse Auditing
 Not being too secretive
 root@bsd:~# host
 domain name pointer
 L0pht’s Antisniff project – locate sniffers and IDS’s by
watching reverse DNS traffic on the LAN
 Miname w/ Co-opted Servers: Watch sniffers and IDS’s
across the entire internet
 TTL=0 on PTR replies means they continually look you up
when you pass by them
 Hard, but not impossible, to associate reverse lookup with node
scanned to attract
 Temporally associated w/ scan
 Multiple scans, out of order, should provide required correlation
 Traceroutes may help too – we know who’s looking us up
Rendering The Flood
How much data could it be?
 [root@fire root]# ls -l dns.log
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root
360215644 May 28 12:42 dns.log
How are we going to visualize this?
 3D space – could use the tools we used to
visualize the complexity of arbitrary data
Phentropy w/ OpenQVIS
3D Viz[0]
3D Space provides a potentially
valuable perspective on extremely
complex datasets
Volume tools have gotten more mature
 Volsuite:Free, Open Source, Full Color,
Cross Platform, Fast
 Video
games = New Absurdly High Speed
Graphics Chipsets
3D Viz[1]
“Volumetric” – Texture Based
 Stacks of transparent photos
 Arbitrary complexity data – it all gets blurred in
 Limits positional accuracy
 Totally static – you can’t animate the population
“Particle” – Vertex Based
 Dots! Dots everywhere!
 Arbitrary positional accuracy – floating point coordinates
can be zoomed into
 Limits number of particles
 Very easy to make dynamic
 Dynamic particles can express higher dimensional data
3D Viz[2]
 Static: XYZ, Color
 Dynamic
 Shape
 Direction

 Color Shift

 Trajectory Shift

 Brightness / “Flare”

 Surprising aspect of dynamics: Motion away from

source point appears to bolster memory /
perception of that point
3D Viz[3]
Under Development – As yet unnamed
Generic 3D Plotter
 Coordinates are streamed in, perhaps with
information about how to render each
 A more generic version of the “Spinning
Cube of Potential Doom”
 Parallel development 
Stuff = Cool
More Stuff Soon