Testing TCP/IP Network Stacks

When working on the network stack there is a need to test and verify the changes made. While problems may be discovered by chance, it is hard to reproduce such situations. The following sections show some methods to stress the target or generate some specific traffic.

In the examples the target has the IP address

SYN Flood Attack

Flood the target with SYN packets to exhaust its resources. It's a good way to test the network driver's buffer management.

sudo hping3 --flood -S -p 80

Building Packets with Scapy

A wonderful network testing tool is the Scapy lib. It enables you to build pretty much any packet constellation you need for testing.

You have to add an iptables rule to prevent outgoing RST packets from the OS's networking stack which does nothing know about our test connection.

To disable outgoing RST packets:

sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags RST RST -d -j DROP

For removing the rule:

sudo iptables -D OUTPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags RST RST -d -j DROP

Testing Re-transmission behavior

When sending a 3-way handshake only, the target should time out and reset the connection.

The following Python Scapy script starts a HTTP request without further responding. The stack should start re-transmit the packets and finally time out.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import logging
from scapy.all import *

get = 'GET / HTTP/1.1\r\n\r\n'

ip = IP(dst="")
port = RandNum(1024, 65535)

# Create SYN packet
SYN = ip/TCP(sport=port, dport=80, flags="S", seq=42)

# Send SYN and receive SYN,ACK

# Create ACK with GET request
ACK = ip/TCP(sport=SYNACK.dport, dport=80, flags="A", seq=SYNACK.ack, ack=SYNACK.seq + 1)

# SEND our ACK

reply, err = sr(ip/TCP(sport=SYNACK.dport, dport=80, flags="A", seq=SYNACK.ack, ack=SYNACK.seq + 1) / get)

Simulating Packet Loss

With simulating packet loss one can test the retransmission behaviour of the target stack.

To start packet loss:

# for randomly dropping 10% of incoming packets:
sudo iptables -A INPUT -m statistic --mode random --probability 0.1 -j DROP

# and for dropping 10% of outgoing packets:
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -m statistic --mode random --probability 0.1 -j DROP

To remove the rules:

# for the incoming packets:
sudo iptables -D INPUT -m statistic --mode random --probability 0.1 -j DROP

# and for the outgoing packets
sudo iptables -D OUTPUT -m statistic --mode random --probability 0.1 -j DROP


For fuzz testing network applications the excellent SPIKE tool can be used. To make it compile under Ubuntu 14.04 LTS you have to add -fno-stack-protector to CFLAGS in src/Makefile.in.

SPIKE complained about missing SSL libs. I simply linked the existing to the needed filenames:

/lib/i386-linux-gnu$ sudo ln -s ./libssl.so.1.0.0 ./libssl.so.0
/lib/i386-linux-gnu$ sudo ln -s ./libcrypto.so.1.0.0 ./libcrypto.so.0

Maybe those lib versions aren't the expected by SPIKE but if you don't use SSL it works fine.

SPIKE provides a proxy server to record requests to your web application. Based on these requests a application specific fuzz test can be generated.

~/SPIKE/src$ mkdir requests && cd requests
# Record requests to the target at on port 80
~/SPIKE/src/requests$ ../webmitm -t -p 80

Now use your web applicaiton through localhost to record some requests. Then you can generate your application specific fuzz test from the recorded requests.

~/SPIKE/src$ ./makewebfuzz.pl ./requests/http_request-1.0 > myfuzz.c
~/SPIKE/src$ gcc ./myfuzz.c -I../include -o myfuzz -L. -ldlrpc -ldl

Now you can fuzz your target:

~/SPIKE/src$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./myfuzz 80