Книга: Iptables Tutorial 1.2.2

Recent match

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Recent match

The recent match is a rather large and complex matching system, which allows us to match packets based on recent events that we have previously matched. For example, if we would see an outgoing IRC connection, we could set the IP addresses into a list of hosts, and have another rule that allows identd requests back from the IRC server within 15 seconds of seeing the original packet.

Before we can take a closer look at the match options, let's try and explain a little bit how it works. First of all, we use several different rules to accomplish the use of the recent match. The recent match uses several different lists of recent events. The default list being used is the DEFAULT list. We create a new entry in a list with the set option, so once a rule is entirely matched (the set option is always a match), we also add an entry in the recent list specified. The list entry contains a timestamp, and the source IP address used in the packet that triggered the set option. Once this has happened, we can use a series of different recent options to match on this information, as well as update the entries timestamp, et cetera.

Finally, if we would for some reason want to remove a list entry, we would do this using the --remove match option from the recent match. All rules using the recent match, must load the recent module (-m recent) as usual. Before we go on with an example of the recent match, let's take a look at all the options.

Table 10-27. Recent match options

Match --name
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A OUTPUT -m recent --name examplelist
Explanation The name option gives the name of the list to use. Per default the DEFAULT list is used, which is probably not what we want if we are using more than one list.
Match --set
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A OUTPUT -m recent --set
Explanation This creates a new list entry in the named recent list, which contains a timestamp and the source IP address of the host that triggered the rule. This match will always return success, unless it is preceded by a ! sign, in which case it will return failure.
Match --rcheck
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A OUTPUT -m recent --name examplelist --rcheck
Explanation The --rcheck option will check if the source IP address of the packet is in the named list. If it is, the match will return true, otherwise it returns false. The option may be inverted by using the ! sign. In the later case, it will return true if the source IP address is not in the list, and false if it is in the list.
Match --update
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A OUTPUT -m recent --name examplelist --update
Explanation This match is true if the source combination is available in the specified list and it also updates the last-seen time in the list. This match may also be reversed by setting the ! mark in front of the match. For example, ! --update.
Match --remove
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --remove
Explanation This match will try to find the source address of the packet in the list, and returns true if the packet is there. It will also remove the corresponding list entry from the list. The command is also possible to inverse with the ! sign.
Match --seconds
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --check --seconds 60
Explanation This match is only valid together with the --check and --update matches. The --seconds match is used to specify how long since the "last seen" column was updated in the recent list. If the last seen column was older than this amount in seconds, the match returns false. Other than this the recent match works as normal, so the source address must still be in the list for a true return of the match.
Match --hitcount
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --check --hitcount 20
Explanation The --hitcount match must be used together with the --check or --update matches and it will limit the match to only include packets that have seen at least the hitcount amount of packets. If this match is used together with the --seconds match, it will require the specified hitcount packets to be seen in the specific timeframe. This match may also be reversed by adding a ! sign in front of the match. Together with the --seconds match, this means that a maximum of this amount of packets may have been seen during the specified timeframe. If both of the matches are inversed, then a maximum of this amount of packets may have been seen during the last minumum of seconds.
Match --rttl
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --check --rttl
Explanation The --rttl match is used to verify that the TTL value of the current packet is the same as the original packet that was used to set the original entry in the recent list. This can be used to verify that people are not spoofing their source address to deny others access to your servers by making use of the recent match.
Match --rsource
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --rsource
Explanation The --rsource match is used to tell the recent match to save the source address and port in the recent list. This is the default behavior of the recent match.
Match --rdest
Kernel 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6
Example iptables -A INPUT -m recent --name example --rdest
Explanation The --rdest match is the opposite of the --rsource match in that it tells the recent match to save the destination address and port to the recent list.

I have created a small sample script of how the recent match can be used, which you can find in the Recent-match.txt section.

Briefly, this is a poor replacement for the state engine available in netfilter. This version was created with a http server in mind, but will work with any TCP connection. First we have created two chains named http-recent and http-recent-final. The http-recent chain is used in the starting stages of the connection, and for the actual data transmission, while the http-recent-final chain is used for the last and final FIN/ACK, FIN handshake.

Warning! This is a very bad replacement for the built in state engine and can not handle all of the possibilities that the state engine can handle. However, it is a good example of what can be done with the recent match without being too specific. Do not use this example in a real world environment. It is slow, handles special cases badly, and should generally never be used more than as an example.

For example, it does not handle closed ports on connection, asyncronuous FIN handshake (where one of the connected parties closes down, while the other continues to send data), etc.

Let's follow a packet through the example ruleset. First a packet enters the INPUT chain, and we send it to the http-recent chain.

The first packet should be a SYN packet, and should not have the ACK,FIN or RST bits set. Hence it is matched using the --tcp-flags SYN,ACK,FIN,RST SYN line. At this point we add the connection to the httplist using -m recent --name httplist --set line. Finally we accept the packet.

After the first packet we should receive a SYN/ACK packet to acknowledge that the SYN packet was received. This can be matched using the --tcp-flags SYN,ACK,FIN,RST SYN,ACK line. FIN and RST should be illegal at this point as well. At this point we update the entry in the httplist using -m recent --name httplist --update and finally we ACCEPT the packet.

By now we should get a final ACK packet, from the original creater of the connection, to acknowledge the SYN/ACK sent by the server. SYN, FIN and RST are illegal at this point of the connection, so the line should look like --tcp-flags SYN,ACK,FIN,RST ACK. We update the list in exactly the same way as in the previous step, and ACCEPT it.

At this point the data transmission can start. The connection should never contain any SYN packet now, but it will contain ACK packets to acknowledge the data packets that are sent. Each time we see any packet like this, we update the list and ACCEPT the packets.

The transmission can be ended in two ways, the simplest is the RST packet. RST will simply reset the connection and it will die. With FIN/ACK, the other endpoint answers with a FIN, and this closes down the connection so that the original source of the FIN/ACK can no longer send any data. The receiver of the FIN, will still be able to send data, hence we send the connection to a "final" stage chain to handle the rest.

In the http-recent-final chain we check if the packet is still in the httplist, and if so, we send it to the http-recent-final1 chain. In that chain we remove the connection from the httplist and add it to the http-recent-final list instead. If the connection has already been removed and moved over to the http-recent-final list, we send te packet to the http-recent-final2 chain.

In the final http-recent-final2 chain, we wait for the non-closed side to finish sending its data, and to close the connection from their side as well. Once this is done, the connection is completely removed.

As you can see the recent list can become quite complex, but it will give you a huge set of possibilities if need be. Still, try and remember not to reinvent the wheel. If the ability you need is already implemented, try and use it instead of trying to create your own solution.

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