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Javier_Velasco
F5 Employee
F5 Employee

Introduction

In this troubleshooting article, I will explain what traffic is expected to collect in a tcpdump capture during an ongoing attack. In this way you can compare with your own environment and understand why you see what you see.

Use cases

In this section I will show you the most common SYN Cookie configurations and how they affect to the traffic that reach BIG-IP. For each use case I add a diagram explaining the role of each party, so you can use it as a rerefence when reviewing captures.

Note that, as a rule of thumb, in tcpdump captures you will see only traffic reaching red TMM arrow in diagrams.

FastL4 + Hardware SYN Cookie

0EM1T000002bplK.png

Fig15. FastL4 + HW SYN Cookie

 

When enabling SYN Cookie hardware offloading in FastL4 you must have into account that, regardless if FastL4 profile is configured as EST or SYN for ‘PVA TCP Offload State’ the capture will be similar to the one I paste below.

Also note that colours in captures match with the diagram above, that is, blue (on the left) for client, red (next to blue and green) for BIG-IP and green (on the right) for server.

 

BLUE:
10:55:30.650614 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq
1486117989, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 257012221 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0

10:55:30.651084 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.33669: Flags [S.], seq 2770916048, ack 1486117990, win 4380, options [mss 1460], length 0

10:55:30.651115 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0

10:55:30.651271 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167

 

RED:
10:48:27.666478 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 2770916049, win 5840, length 0 in slot1/tmm3 lis=

10:48:27.666793 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 0:167, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET /zarapito HTTP/1.1 in slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

10:48:27.667073 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq 1486117989, win 5840, options [mss 1460], length 0 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

10:48:27.667245 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.33669: Flags [S.], seq 3169243726, ack 1486117990, win 64240, options [mss 1460], length 0 in slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

10:48:27.667586 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

10:48:27.667588 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET /zarapito HTTP/1.1 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

 

GREEN:
09:54:39.236239 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq
1486117989, win 5840, options [mss 1460], length 0

09:54:39.236264 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.33669: Flags [S.], seq 3169243726, ack 1486117990, win 64240, options [mss 1460], length 0

09:54:39.236692 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0

09:54:39.236707 IP 10.10.10.10.33669 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET /zarapito HTTP/1.1

09:54:39.236728 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.33669: Flags [.], ack 168, win 64073, length 0

 

There are three important things you can observe in above captures:

  • TCP options are lost in this example. This is because SYN Cookie is offloaded in hardware and for this mode currently only MSS value is trasfered from client side to server side, with some limitations. Check article dedicated to 'Hardware Vs Software' in this article series.
  • In BIG-IP you cannot see the first two packets of TCP 3WHS (SYN and SYN/ACK). This is because hardware is in charge of validating SYN Cookie, since tcpdump is capturing traffic in TMM you only see last ACK packet.
  • Also note that SYN sequence number sent by client to BIG-IP is the same than the one BIG-IP sends to Server.

FastL4 + Software SYN Cookie

0EM1T000002bplL.png

Fig16. FastL4 + SW SYN Cookie

 

In this case, although you are using an accelerated profile (FastL4), since software is handling the TCP 3WHS this allows you to see all packets when you run a traffic capture. Blue is on the left, red in the middle, green on the right.

 

BLUE:
17:32:15.588706 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq
2986408498, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 262963455 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0

17:32:15.588973 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34527: Flags [S.], seq 2739000888, ack 2986408499, win 4380, options [mss 1460], length 0

17:32:15.588996 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0

17:32:15.589119 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167

RED:
17:25:11.566071 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 2986408498, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 262963455 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0 in slot1/tmm3 lis=

17:25:11.566095 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34527: Flags [S.], seq 2739000888, ack 2986408499, win 4380, options [mss 1460], length 0 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

17:25:11.566321 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0 in slot1/tmm3 lis=

17:25:11.566451 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 in slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

17:25:11.566834 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq 2986408498, win 5840, options [mss 1460], length 0 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

17:25:11.567058 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34527: Flags [S.], seq 4131626625, ack 2986408499, win 64240, options [mss 1460], length 0 in slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

17:25:11.567344 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

17:25:11.567346 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 out slot1/tmm3 lis=/Common/fwd

GREEN:
16:31:24.339490 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq
2986408498, win 5840, options [mss 1460], length 0

16:31:24.339551 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34527: Flags [S.], seq 4131626625, ack 2986408499, win 64240, options [mss 1460], length 0

16:31:24.339987 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, length 0

16:31:24.340003 IP 10.10.10.10.34527 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1

 

As it happened in the previous example, BIG-IP does not ACK the HTTP request (PSH) sent by client because a FastL4 profile is being used, what it means that BIG-IP will act as a TCP transparent proxy between server and client. In other words, once correct TCP handshake has done BIG-IP will forward rest of this connection traffic to server directly.

Standard + Hardware SYN Cookie

0EM1T000002bplM.png

Fig17. Standard + Hardware SYN Cookie

 

The main difference in this case is that for Standard virtual server BIG-IP must act as a TCP proxy between client and server during all connection time. This means that BIG-IP sends ACK as response to PSH packet sent by client before this PSH is in fact received by the server. This image has the same color scheme as the first image.

 

BLUE:
14:02:03.606740 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 2828374030, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 259810460 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0

14:02:03.606861 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34522: Flags [S.], seq 2971392569, ack 2828374031, win 4380, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 870079512 ecr 259810460], length 0

14:02:03.606885 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 5840, options [nop,nop,TS val 259810460 ecr 870079512], length 0

14:02:03.607176 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 5840, options [nop,nop,TS val 259810460 ecr 870079512], length 167

RED:
13:55:00.128183 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 2971392570, win 5840, options [nop,nop,TS val 259810460 ecr 870079512], length 0 in slot1/tmm4 lis=

13:55:00.128272 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq 2348737573, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 1607698719 ecr 0], length 0 out slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

13:55:00.128496 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 0:167, ack 1, win 5840, options [nop,nop,TS val 259810460 ecr 870079512], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 in slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

13:55:00.128501 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34522: Flags [.], ack 167, win 14767, options [nop,nop,TS val 870079512 ecr 259810460], length 0 out slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

13:55:00.128559 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34522: Flags [S.], seq 1953609172, ack 2348737574, win 65160, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 1991641654 ecr 1607698719,nop,wscale 7], length 0 in slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

13:55:00.128564 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1607698719 ecr 1991641654], length 0 out slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

13:55:00.128567 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1607698719 ecr 1991641654], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 out slot1/tmm4 lis=/Common/std

GREEN:
13:01:12.268012 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 2348737573, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 1607698719 ecr 0], length 0

13:01:12.268103 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34522: Flags [S.], seq 1953609172, ack 2348737574, win 65160, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 1991641654 ecr 1607698719,nop,wscale 7], length 0

13:01:12.268347 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1607698719 ecr 1991641654], length 0

13:01:12.268355 IP 10.10.10.10.34522 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1607698719 ecr 1991641654], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1

 

Note that SYN sequence number sent by client to BIG-IP is different than the one BIG-IP sends to Server (2828374030 Vs 2348737573). This is because we are using Standard virtual server, so there are two independent TCP connections, one between client and BIG-IP and the second between BigIP and server.

Again, as commented since in this example Hardware SYN Cookie is used we cannot see first two TCP handshake packets in the capture.

Standard + Software SYN Cookie

0EM1T000002bplN.png

Fig18. Standard + Software SYN Cookie

 

Apparently there are not any difference when capturing traffic of a client request when SYN Cookie is activated or disabled in this case. Only difference is that BIG-IP creates a SYN Cookie challenge and it adds it as a sequence number in SYN/ACK, but looking to capture this change is not clearly visible. We need to compare with log and stats to confirm that in fact SYN Cookie is enabled, also depending in config we can check as well TCP options passed to server side. Color scheme here is the same as the second image.

 

BLUE:
14:32:58.966168 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 3344434108, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 260274299 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0

14:32:58.966358 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34525: Flags [S.], seq 2686010241, ack 3344434109, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 3273182234 ecr 260274299], length 0

14:32:58.966398 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 92, options [nop,nop,TS val 260274299 ecr 3273182234], length 0

14:32:58.966649 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 92, options [nop,nop,TS val 260274300 ecr 3273182234], length 167

RED:
14:25:55.405917 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 3344434108, win 5840, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 260274299 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0 in slot1/tmm1 lis=

14:25:55.405931 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34525: Flags [S.], seq 2686010241, ack 3344434109, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 3273182234 ecr 260274299], length 0 out slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406048 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 92, options [nop,nop,TS val 260274299 ecr 3273182234], length 0 in slot1/tmm1 lis=

14:25:55.406355 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 92, options [nop,nop,TS val 260274300 ecr 3273182234], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 in slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406359 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34525: Flags [.], ack 168, win 14767, options [nop,nop,TS val 3273182234 ecr 260274300], length 0 out slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406131 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [S], seq 2235159701, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 1609553998 ecr 0], length 0 out slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406524 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34525: Flags [S.], seq 3205875957, ack 2235159702, win 65160, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 1993497007 ecr 1609553998,nop,wscale 7], length 0 in slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406527 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1609553998 ecr 1993497007], length 0 out slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

14:25:55.406531 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1609553998 ecr 1993497007], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1 out slot1/tmm1 lis=/Common/std

GREEN:
13:32:07.645733 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags
[S], seq 2235159701, win 14600, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 0,sackOK,TS val 1609553998 ecr 0], length 0

13:32:07.645820 IP 10.10.20.212.80 > 10.10.10.10.34525: Flags [S.], seq 3205875957, ack 2235159702, win 65160, options [mss 1460,sackOK,TS val 1993497007 ecr 1609553998,nop,wscale 7], length 0

13:32:07.646011 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [.], ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1609553998 ecr 1993497007], length 0

13:32:07.646022 IP 10.10.10.10.34525 > 10.10.20.212.80: Flags [P.], seq 1:168, ack 1, win 14600, options [nop,nop,TS val 1609553998 ecr 1993497007], length 167: HTTP: GET / HTTP/1.1

 

Note that, as in the previous example, SYN sequence number sent by client to BIG-IP is different than the one BIG-IP sends to Server (3344434108 Vs 2235159701).

Conclusion

At this point only one part left to have a complete picture of BIG-IP's SYN Cookie countermeasure functioning, so in next article I finish this series giving details about expected logs when SYN Cookie is working in our device.

Version history
Last update:
‎31-Mar-2021 08:21
Updated by:
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