The Palner Group, Inc.

Kamailio, Asterisk, VoIP, and IT Consulting

Tag: brute force attack

Explaining Sip Brute Force Attacks to Non-Techs

Today we received a call from a federal employee investigating a “hack” on a client’s system. Basically, the client suffered a SIP Brute Force attack on their elastix system. Besides the shock of a call from the feds (why did they ignore those Amazon attacks?), the realization of explaining a sip attack to someone not familiar with SIP, telephony, networking, or servers posed a little challenge.

So, how do we start?

First step: We will no longer use the words SIP, Brute, Force, and Attack. =)

What we’re talking about is a scheme to make expensive calls through your phone system. Of course, this isn’t true for all scenarios, but the vast majority simply want to make expensive calls on your dime.

How does it work?

The bad guys trick your phone system into thinking they are a valid user.

How can they do that?

When phones connect to your phone system, the system replies with different messages. Based on those messages, the bad guys can figure out phone names. Think of your phone system as the receptionist. An attempt might be similar to…

Bad Guy: “Hi, is Alice there?”
Receptionist: “No, there is no Alice here. You have the wrong number.”
Bad Guy: “Hi, is Bob there?”
Receptionist: “Yes, who may I say is calling?”

Basically, there’s a different response based on if that person exists in the company. Same thing with the phones. Once the Bad Guys find out phone names, they then use their computers to crack the phone password.

Once the password is detected, they connect their phone to your system and begin making calls.

What can I do to stop this?

If the person in charge of your phone system doesn’t understand what this attack is, you need to hire a consultant to help you and/or train your administrator. If you or your administrator understand this attack, then you need to make sure you are following the best practices for SIP security (here’s a good link for asterisk best practices).

If you’re running asterisk, you might wish to install a script that checks for attacks and blocks those connections.

Even better… consider Kamailio.

Kamailio (pronounced KAMA-ILLY-OH) is an open-source SIP proxy, registrar, application that is extremely robust and powerful. The software includes anti-flood features that really help protect your system and truly helps to minimize these annoying attacks.

Remember, the Internet is like a big city. Sure there’s great museums and entertainment, but there’s also bad, bad places filled with bad, bad people. If you’re going to leave your BMW unlocked in Hell’s Kitchen, don’t be surprised when it’s been taken around the block a few times.

Automatically Block Failed SIP Peer Registrations

Previously we posted a little script for quickly checking your asterisk log for failed peer registrations. Building on that script, and with the use of iptables and cron, you can easily (and automatically) block flooding traffic from your system. Iptables, a linux command line program to filter IP traffic, provides high level packet filtering before the traffic can be used to corrupt a program. Cron, the linux time scheduler, enables you to automatically run commands at scheduled time periods.

Set up IP Tables

We will not be discussing the intricacies of iptables in this post. There are excellent tutorials on iptables, and with most things linux, help is only a google away. To help identify the traffic blocked as asterisk related, a new chain will be created appropriately called… asterisk.

Here’s how to add the new chain:

iptables -N asterisk
iptables -A INPUT -j asterisk
iptables -A FORWARD -j asterisk

This will help identify hosts blocked for failed registrations.

Asterisk’s Log for Failed Registrations

In most cases of a sip flood attack, the host attempts registration to Asterisk. These hosts are identified in the Asterisk log (/var/log/messages) as “No matching peer found.” The following perl script scans /var/log/messages for these patterns, strips the IP address, and puts the IP address into an array.

After the file has been read, the IP addresses are counted (each count is a failed attempt), compared against the existing blocked hosts, and new occurrences are blocked. With this script we are blocking any host after the 4th failed attempt.

Here’s the script (last updated 05 SEP 2010):

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use warnings;
my (@failhost);
my %currblocked;
my %addblocked;
my $action;

open (MYINPUTFILE, "/var/log/asterisk/messages") or die "\n", $!, "Does log file file exist\?\n\n";

while (<MYINPUTFILE>) {
	my ($line) = $_;
	chomp($line);
	if ($line =~ m/\' failed for \'(.*?)\' - No matching peer found/) {
		push(@failhost,$1);
	}
	if ($line =~ m/\' failed for \'(.*?)\' – Wrong password/) {
		push(@failhost,$1);
	}
}

my $blockedhosts = `/sbin/iptables -n -L asterisk`;

while ($blockedhosts =~ /(.*)/g) {
	my ($line2) = $1;
	chomp($line2);
	if ($line2 =~ m/(\d+\.\d+\.\d+\.\d+)(\s+)/) {
		$currblocked{ $1 } = 'blocked';
	}
}

while (my ($key, $value) = each(%currblocked)){
	print $key . "\n";
}

if (@failhost) {
	&count_unique(@failhost);
	while (my ($ip, $count) = each(%addblocked)) {
		if (exists $currblocked{ $ip }) {
			print "$ip already blocked\n";
		} else {
			$action = `/sbin/iptables -I asterisk -s $ip -j DROP`;
			print "$ip blocked. $count attempts.\n";
		}
	}
} else {
	print "no failed registrations.\n";
}

sub count_unique {
    my @array = @_;
    my %count;
    map { $count{$_}++ } @array;
    map {($addblocked{ $_ } = ${count{$_}})} sort keys(%count);
}

Schedule the script with cron

The final step is to schedule your script to run every X minutes in cron. We’ve chosen to run our script every 2 minutes, but you can change this to 1 minute or any other time period you choose. Just remember… you can receive thousands of attempts within 2 minutes.

If you have named your script check-failed-regs.pl and placed it in your /usr/local/bin directory, your cron statement would look like this:

*/2 * * * * perl /usr/local/bin/check-failed-regs.pl &> /dev/null

Questions? Comments? We love feedback. Or, contact us for more information.

Perl Script for Asterisk Failed Peer Registrations

I guess this might be better titled as the Quick and Dirty Perl Script… but here we go:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use warnings;
my (@failhost);

open (MYINPUTFILE, "/var/log/asterisk/$ARGV[0]") or die "\n", $!, "Does log file file exist\?\n\n";

while (<MYINPUTFILE>) {
	my ($line) = $_;
	chomp($line);
	if ($line =~ m/\' failed for \'(.*?)\' - No matching peer found/) {
		push(@failhost,$1);
	}
}

if (@failhost) {
	&count_unique(@failhost);
} else {
	print "no failed registrations.\n";
}

sub count_unique {
    my @array = @_;
    my %count;
    map { $count{$_}++ } @array;
	
	#print them out:
	
    map {print "$_ = ${count{$_}}\n"} sort keys(%count);

}

And while we duck from @Merlyn’s criticisms (although we love his criticism), the basic usage is:

perl [Whatever you named it].pl messages
or perl [Whatever you named it].pl messages.1

Results look like:

184.73.53.22 = 13586
64.76.45.100 = 9895
78.46.87.14 = 9960

Or “no failed registrations.” if you have no failed attempts.