Tag Archives: Hop Limit

Who sends TCP RSTs?

At SharkFest’22 EU, the Annual Wireshark User and Developer Conference, I attended a beginners’ course called “Network Troubleshooting from Scratch”, taught by the great Jasper Bongertz. In the end, we had some high-level discussions concerning various things, one of them was the insight that TCP RSTs are not only sent from a server in case the port is closed, but are also commonly sent (aka spoofed) from firewalls in case a security policy denies the connection. Key question: Can you distinguish between those spoofed vs. real TCP RSTs? Initially, I thought: no, you can’t, cause the firewalls out there do a great job.

It turned out: you can!

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Advanced Tracerouting

A common misunderstanding of traceroute is that it fully relies on ping. “If I block ping at my firewall, no one can use traceroute to reveal my internal routing path”. Unfortunately, this is not true. If traceroute is used with TCP SYN packets on permitted TCP/UDP ports, all intermediary firewalls will handle the IP packets with TTL = 0 corresponding to the RFCs and will reply with an ICMP time exceeded packet to the source.

In this post, I am listing an example that uses traceroute with TCP port 25 (SMTP) to traverse a firewall. A sample pcap file can be downloaded while some Wireshark screenshots show a few details.

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