9.5 Fuzzy Operating System Fingerprinting

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Fyodor Yarochkin and Ofir Arkin have developed and enhanced Xprobe, an ICMP-based OS fingerprint scanner. Until recently, most tools for remote active OS fingerprinting used a static algorithm signature database to perform a match between the results they received from a targeted machine and known operating system fingerprints . This process has traditionally used strict signature matching to identify the remote operating system. However, in newer versions of Xprobe, the authors aggregate different remote active OS fingerprinting methods in order to identify the type of a remote operating system with a high precision rating that uses a "fuzzy" approach.

Nmap, with its osscan_guess option, actually implemented this feature before Xprobe did.

9.5.1 Obstacles to Fingerprinting

The fuzzy approach is designed to address several problems in the traditional strict decision-tree algorithms used by most active OS fingerprinting tools. For example, issues of network topology and of the fingerprinting process itself can both degrade the accuracy of the strict signature-matching technique.

A packet might be affected in different ways while in transit. First, a networking or filtering device might change one or several field values within the packet. For example, a packet-shaping device might alter time-to-live values, discard packets with malformed checksums, or calculate checksums for zero-checksum packets such as UDP packets. In addition, a router or firewall might spoof responses for a targeted system it protects; firewalls, for example, can spoof ICMP query replies. Also, a scrubber application may be present between the sending system and the target system, cleaning certain fields in the packet and thwarting fingerprinting.

Network firewalls or load-balancing devices can also cause bogus results by dropping or rerouting certain packets. Similarly, a TCP/IP stack that can be tuned by the user (for example, with the sysctl command on BSDs or the ndd command on Solaris) causes strict signature matching to fail. Finally, if a remote active OS fingerprinting tool utilizes malformed packets to produce its results, a properly configured intrusion detection system will alert the target.

9.5.2 Fuzzy Solution to Operating System Fingerprinting

In order to address these problems, the Xprobe authors revised the tool to use a fuzzy matching system to correlate received results with a known fingerprints signature database. They chose a matrix-based fingerprint-matching approach using existing OCR (optical character recognition) systems as their engine. This strategy employs a simple matrix representation of the scan results and subsequent calculation of "matches" by summing scores for each "signature" (OS). The program does this by reading the Xprobe configuration file, which holds the fingerprints signature database, and looking for the fingerprint and OS_ID entries. Once the fingerprinting test is executed, the program examines the packet(s) received as a result of the fingerprinting test and calculates a score for each possible OS.

The score value can take one of the following values:


Each test module assigns the appropriate score value according to the scheme implemented with the module. Thus, by using different score values, Xprobe introduces a degree of " fuzziness " to the solution. Once the tests are completed, each OS column is summed for a total score. The top-scoring OS is chosen as the final result. This method uses simple probability, since the highest score given for an OS (or OSs) is the most likely to produce an accurate match.

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Security Warrior
Security Warrior
ISBN: 0596005458
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 211

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