Tips on using scapy for custom IP packets

Intro
scapy is an IP packet customization tool that keeps coming up in my searches so I could no longer avoid it. I was unnecessarily intimidated because it was built around python and the documentation is a little strange. But I’m warming up to it now…

The details
Download and install
CentOS
Just go to scapy.net and it will propose to you to download the .zip file. I got scapy-2.3.1.zip. Then you can unzip it; change directory to the scapy-2.3.1 sub-directory and run

$ sudo python setup.py install

Debian systems such as Raspberry Pi
Simple. It’s just:

$ sudo apt-get install python-scapy

Usage modes
scapy can be called from within python, but if you’re afraid to do that like I am, you can run it from the command line which simply throws you into a python shell. I’m finding that a lot more comfortable as I slowly learn python syntax and some useful shortcuts.

Example 1
The background
Let’s cut to the chase and do something hard first. Remember how we got those Cisco Jabber packets with DSCP set, causing Cisco Jabber to not work for some users? The long-term solution according to that post is to turn off the DSCP flag for all packets on the Internet router. So we want to be able to generate packets under our control with that flag set so we can see if we’ve managed to turn it off correctly.

DSCP value occupies the first 6 bits of the 8-bit tos field. The packets we got from Cisco had DSCP of 0x2e which is Expedited Forwarding (EF), and if you do the math that corresponds to tos of 0xb8 which in decimal is 184.

$ sudo scapy
>>> sr(IP(dst="50.17.188.196",tos=184)/TCP(dport=80,sport=4025))

Begin emission:
....Finished to send 1 packets.
.*
Received 6 packets, got 1 answers, remaining 0 packets
(<Results: TCP:1 UDP:0 ICMP:0 Other:0>, <Unanswered: TCP:0 UDP:0 ICMP:0 Other:0>)
>>>

Instead of the call to sr you can simply use send. Breaking this down, I’m testing against my drjohns server with IP 50.17.188.196. tos is a property of an IP packet so it’s included as a keyword argument to the IP function. The “/” following the IP function is funny syntax but it somehow says that more properties at different layers are coming. So in the TCP section I used keyword arguments and set source port of 4025 and destination port of 80. What I observed is that this will send a SYN packet even though I didn’t explicitly identify that.

Want to have a random source port like “real” packets? Then use this:

$ >>> sr(IP(dst="50.17.188.196",tos=184)/TCP(dport=80,sport=RandShort()))

Look for it
I know tcpdump better so I look for my packet with that tool like this:

$ sudo tcpdump -v -n -i eth0 host 71.2.39.115 and port 80

tcpdump: listening on eth0, link-type EN10MB (Ethernet), capture size 65535 bytes
19:33:29.749170 IP (tos 0xb8, ttl 39, id 1, offset 0, flags [none], proto TCP (6), length 44)
    71.2.39.115.partimage > 10.185.21.116.http: Flags [S], cksum 0xd97b (correct), seq 0, win 8192, options [mss 1460], length 0
19:33:29.749217 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 64, id 0, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 44)
    10.185.21.116.http > 71.2.39.115.partimage: Flags [S.], cksum 0x3e39 (correct), seq 3026513916, ack 1, win 5840, options [mss 1460], length 0
19:33:29.781193 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 41, id 19578, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 40)

Interpretation
Our tos was wiped clean by the time our generated packet was received by Amazon AWS. This was a packet I sent from my home using my Raspberry Pi. So likely my ISP CenturyLink is removing QOS from packets its residential customers send out. With some ISPs and business class service I have seen the tos field preserved exactly. When sent from Amazon AWS I saw the field value altered, but not set to 0!

Example 2, ping
>>> sr(IP(dst="8.8.8.8")/ICMP())

Begin emission:
Finished to send 1 packets.
.*
Received 2 packets, got 1 answers, remaining 0 packets
(<Results: TCP:0 UDP:0 ICMP:1 Other:0>, <Unanswered: TCP:0 UDP:0 ICMP:0 Other:0>)

Getting info on return packet
$ >>> sr1(IP(dst="drjohnstechtalk.com",tos=184)/TCP(dport=80,sport=RandShort()))

Begin emission:
...............................................................................................Finished to send 1 packets.
...........................................*
Received 139 packets, got 1 answers, remaining 0 packets
<IP  version=4L ihl=5L tos=0x0 len=44 id=0 flags=DF frag=0L ttl=25 proto=tcp chksum=0xe1d7 
src=50.17.188.196 dst=144.29.1.2 options=[] |<TCP  sport=http dport=17176 seq=3590570804 ack=1 dataofs=6L reserved=0L flags=SA window=5840 chksum=0x24b0 urgptr=0 options=[('MSS', 1460)] |<Padding  load='\x00\x00' |>>>

Note that this tells me about the return packet, which is a SYN ACK. So it tells me my SYN packet must have been sent from port 17176 (it changes every time because I’ve included sport=RandShort()). Each “.” in the response indicates a packet hitting the interface. I guess it’s promiscuously listening on the interface.

Hitting a closed port

$ >>> sr1(IP(dst="drjohnstechtalk.com",tos=184)/TCP(dport=81,sport=RandShort()))

Begin emission:
....................................................................................
.........................................................................................................Finished to send 1 packets.
...............................................................................
.................................................................................
.........................................................................................

Basically those dots are going to keep going forever until you type -C, because there will be no return packet if something like a firewall is dropping your packet, or the returned packet.

Useful shortcuts
The scapy commands look pretty daunting at first, right? And too much trouble to type in, right? Just get it right once and you’re set. In typical networking debugging you’ll be running such test packets multiple times. Because it’s basically a python shell, you can use the up arrow key to recall the previous thing, or hit it multiple times to scroll through your previously typed commands. And even if you exit and return, it still remembers your command history so you can hit the up-arrow to get back to your commands from previous sesisons and previous days.

References and related
This scapy for dummies guide is very well written.
I’m finding this python tutorial really helpful.
DSCP and explanation of Cisco Jabber not working is described here.
A simpler tool which is fine for most things is nmap. I provide some real-world examples in this blog post.

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