Category Archives: Operations

Upgrading the Blog after 5 years, AWS Amazon Web Services, under DoS and Spam attacks

Few days ago I was under a heavy DoS attack.

Nothing new, zombie computers, hackers, pirates, networks of computers… trying to abuse the system and to hack into it. Why? There could be many reasons, from storing pirate movies, trying to use your Server for sending Spam, try to phishing or to host Ransomware pages…

Most of those guys doesn’t know that is almost impossible to Spam from Amazon. Few emails per hour can come out from the Server unless you explicitly requests that update and configure everything.

But I thought it was a great opportunity to force myself to update the Operating System, core tools, versions of PHP and MySql.

Forensics / Postmortem of the incident

The task was divided in two parts:

  • Understanding the origin of the attack
  • Blocking the offending Ip addresses or disabling XMLRPC
  • Making the VM boot again (problems with Amazon AWS)
    • I didn’t know why it was not booting so.
  • Upgrading the OS

I disabled the access to the site while I was working using Amazon Web Services Firewall. Basically I turned access to my ip only. Example: 8.8.8.8/32

I changed 0.0.0.0/0 so the world wide mask to my_Ip/3

That way the logs were reflecting only what I was doing from my Ip.

Dealing with Snapshots and Volumes in AWS

Well the first thing was doing an Snapshot.

After, I tried to boot the original Blog Server (so I don’t stop offering service) but no way, the Server appeared to be dead.

So then I attached the Volume to a new Server with the same base OS, in order to extract (dump) the database. Later I would attach the same Volume to a new Server with the most recent OS and base Software.

Something that is a bit annoying is that the new Instances, the new generation instances, run only in VPC, not in Amazon EC2 Classic. But my static Ip addresses are created for Amazon EC2 Classic, so I could not use them in new generation instances.

I choose the option to see all the All the generations.

Upgrading the system base Software had its own challenges too.

Upgrading the OS / Base Software

My approach was to install an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and install the base Software clean, and add any modification I may need.

I wanted to have all the supported packages and a recent version of PHP 7 and the latest Software pieces link Apache or MySQL.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install apache2

sudo apt install mysql-server

sudo apt install php libapache2-mod-php php-mysql

Apache2

Config files that before were working stopped working as the new Apache version requires the files or symlinks under /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/ to end with .conf extension.

Also some directives changed, so some websites will not able to work properly.

Those projects using my Catalonia Framework were affected, although I have this very well documented to make it easy to work with both versions of Apache Http Server, so it was a very straightforward change.

From the previous version I had to change my www.cataloniaframework.com.conf file and enable:

    <Directory /www/www.cataloniaframework.com>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
allow from all
</Directory>

Then Open the ports for the Web Server (443 and 80).

sudo ufw allow in "Apache Full"

Then service apache restart

Catalonia Framework Web Site, which is also created with Catalonia Framework itself once restored

MySQL

The problem was to use the most updated version of the Database. I could use one of the backups I keep, from last week, but I wanted more fresh data.

I had the .db files and it should had been very straightforward to copy to /var/lib/mysql/ … if they were the same version. But they weren’t. So I launched an instance with the same base Software as the old previous machine had, installed mysql-server, stopped it, copied the .db files, started it, and then I made a dump with mysqldump –all-databases > 2019-04-29-all-databases.sql

Note, I copied the .db files using the mythical mc, which is a clone from Norton Commander.

Then I stopped that instance and I detached that volume and attached it to the new Blog Instance.

I did a Backup of my original /var/lib/mysql/ files for the purpose of faster restoring if something went wrong.

I mounted it under /mnt/blog_old and did mysql -u root -p < /mnt/blog_old/home/ubuntu/2019-04-29-all-databases.sql

That worked well I had restored the blog. But as I was watching the /var/log/mysql/error.log I noticed some columns were not where they should be. That’s because inadvertently I overwritten the MySql table as well, which in MySQL 5.7 has different structure than in MySQL 5.5. So I screwed. As I previewed this possibility I restored from the backup in seconds.

So basically then I edited my .sql files and removed all that was for the mysql database.

I started MySql, and run the mysql import procedure again. It worked, but I had to recreate the users for all the Databases and Grant them permissions.

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON db_mysqlproxycache.* TO 'wp_dbuser_mysqlproxy'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'XWy$&{yS@qlC|<¡!?;:-ç';

PHP7

Some modules in my blogs where returning errors in /var/log/apache2/mysite-error.log so I checked that it was due to lack of support of latest PHP versions, and so I patched manually the code or I just disabled the offending plugin.

WordPress

As seen checking the /var/log/apache2/blog.carlesmateo.com-error.log some URLs where not located by WordPress.

For example:

The requested URL /wordpress/wp-json/ was not found on this server

I had to activate modrewrite and then restart Apache.

a2enmod rewrite; service apache2 restart

Making the site more secure

Checking at the logs of Apache, /var/log/apache2/blog.carlesmateo.com-access.log I checked for Ip’s accessing Admin areas, I looked for 404 Errors pointing to intents to exploit a unsafe WP Plugin, I checked for POST protocol as well.

I added to the Ubuntu Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) the offending Ip’s and patched the xmlrpc.php file to exit always.

Dropping caches in Linux, to check if memory is actually being used

I encountered that Server, Xeon, 128 GB of RAM, with those 58 Spinning drives 10 TB and 2 SSD of 2 TB each, where I was testing the latest version of my Software.

Monitoring long term tests, data validation, checking for memory leaks…
I notice the Server is using 70 GB of RAM. Only 5.5 GB are used for buffers according to the usual tools (top, htop, free, cat /proc/meminfo, ps aux…) and no programs are eating that amount, so where is the RAM?.
The rest of the Servers are working well, including models: same mode, 4U60 with 64 GB of RAM, 4U90 with 128 GB and All-Flash-Array with 256 GB of RAM, only using around 8 GB of RAM even under load.
iSCSI sharings being used, with I/O, iSCSI initiators trying to connect and getting rejected, several requests for second, disk pulling, and that usual stuff. And this is the only unit using so many memory, so what?.
I checked some modules to see memory consumption, but nothing clear.
Ok, after a bit of investigation one member of the Team said “Oh, while you was on holidays we created a Ramdisk and filled it for some validations, we deleted that already but never rebooted the Server”.
Ok. The easy solution would be to reboot, but that would had hidden a memory leak it that was the cause.
No, I had to find the real cause.

I requested assistance of one my colleagues, specialist, Kernel Engineer.
He confirmed that processes were not taking that memory, and ask me to try to drop the cache.

So I did:

sync
echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

Then the memory usage drop to 11.4 GB and kept like that while I maintain sustained the load.

That’s more normal taking in count that we have 16 Volumes shared and one host is attempting to connect to Volumes that do not exist any more like crazy, Services and Cronjobs run in background and we conduct tests degrading the pool, removing drives, etc..

After tests concluded memory dropped to 2 GB, which is what we use when we’re not under load.

Note: In order to know about the memory being used by Kernel slab cache in real time you can use command:

 slabtop

You can also check:

sudo vmstat -m

Solving an infinite loop in CentOS after inducing a Kernel Panic in a Server

This trick may be useful for you.
Almost surely if you power cycle, completely powering down your Server you’ll fix booting too.
Unfortunately we do not always have access to the Data Center or Remote Hands service available, so this trick may be useful for you.

Just reset your BMC card with this:
ipmitool -H 172.30.30.7 -U admin -P thepassword bmc reset cold

After this use the remote control tool to request a reboot and it will do and power on normally.

This may not work in all the Servers, it depends on a lot of aspects (firmware, bmc manufacturer, etc…) but can do the trick for you maybe.

Create a small partition on the drives for tests

Ok, as you know I work with ZFS, DRAID, Erasure Coding… and Cold Storage.
I work with big disks, SAS, SSD, and NVMe.
Sometimes I need to conduct some tests that involve filling completely to 100% the pool.
That’s very slow having to fill 14TB drives, with Servers with 60, 90 and 104 drives, for obvious reasons. So here is a handy script for partitioning those drives with a small partition, then you use the small partition for creating a pool that will fill faster.

1. Get the list of drives in the system
For example this script can help

DRIVES=`ls -al /dev/disk/by-id/ | grep "sd" | grep -v "part" | grep "wwn" | tr "./" "  " | awk '{ print $11; }'`

If your drives had a previous partition this script will detect them, and will use only the drives with wwn identifier.
Warning: some M.2 booting drives have wwn where others don’t. Use with caution.

2. Identify the boot device and remove from the list
3. Do the loop with for DRIVE in $DRIVES or manually:

for DRIVE in sdar sdcd sdi sdj sdbp sdbd sdy sdab sdbo sdk sdz sdbb sdl sdcq sdbl sdbe sdan sdv sdp sdbf sdao sdm sdg sdbw sdaf sdac sdag sdco sds sdah sdbh sdby sdbn sdcl sdcf sdbz sdbi sdcr sdbj sdd sdcn sdr sdbk sdaq sde sdak sdbx sdbm sday sdbv sdbg sdcg sdce sdca sdax sdam sdaz sdci sdt sdcp sdav sdc sdae sdf sdw sdu sdal sdo sdx sdh sdcj sdch sdaw sdba sdap sdck sdn sdas sdai sdaa sdcs sdcm sdcb sdaj sdcc sdad sdbc sdb sdq
do
(echo g; echo n; echo; echo; echo 41984000; echo w;) | fdisk /dev/$DRIVE
done

Simulating a SAS physical pull out of a drive

Please, note:
Nothing is exactly the same as a physical disk pull.
A physical disk pull can trigger errors by the expander that will not be detected just emulating.
Hardware failures are complex, so you should not avoid testing physically.
If your company has the Servers in another location you should request them to have Servers next to you, or travel to the location and spend enough time hands on.

A set of commands very handy for simulating a physical drive pull, when you have not physical access to the Server, or working within a VM.

To delete a disk (Linux stop seeing it until next reboot/power cycle):

echo "1" > /sys/block/${device_name}/device/delete

Set a disk offline:

echo "offline" > /sys/block/${device_name}/device/state

Online the disk

echo "running" > /sys/block/${device_name}/device/state

Scan all hosts, rescan

for host in /sys/class/scsi_host/host*; do echo '- - -' > $host/scan; done

Disabling the port in the expander

This is more like physically pulling the drive.
In order to use the commands, install the package smp_utils. This is now
installed on the 4602 and the 4U60.

The command to disable a port on the expander:

smp_phy_control --phy=${phy_number} --op=dis /dev/bsg/${expander_id}

You will need to know the phy number of the drive. There may be a better
way, but to get it I used:

smp_discover /dev/bsg/${expander_id}

You need to look for the sas_address of the drive in the output from the
smp_discover command. You may need to try all the expanders to find it.

You can get the sas_address for your drive by:

cat /sys/block/${device_name}/device/sas_address

To re-enable the port use:

smp_phy_control --phy=${phy_number} --op=lr /dev/bsg/${expander_id}

Some handy scripts when working with ZFS

To kill one drive given the id (device name may change between reboots)

TO_REMOVE="wwn-0x5000c500a6134007"
DRIVE=`ls -al /dev/disk/by-id/ | grep ${TO_REMOVE} | grep -v "\-part" | awk '{ print $11 }' | tr --delete './'`; 

if [[ ! -z "${DRIVE}" ]];
then
    echo "1" > /sys/block/${DRIVE}/device/delete
else
    echo "Drive not found"
fi

Loop to see the status of the pool

while true; do zpool status carles-N58-C3-D16-P3-S1 | head --lines=20; sleep 5; done

Linux command-line tools I usually install

Some additional command-line tools that I use to install and use on my client Systems

Apache benchmarks

To stress a Web Server

ethtool

ethtool

fatrace
Reports file access events from all running processes in real time.

flock
With flock several processes can have a shared lock at the same time, or be waiting to acquire a write lock. With lslocks from util-linux package you can get a list of these processes.

fstrim

discard unused blocks on a mounted filesystem (local or remote). Is useful for freeing blocks no longer used in ZFS zvols. That can also be achieved by mount -o discard

fuser
Show which processes use the named files, sockets, or filesystems.

git

hdparm
Get/set SATA/IDE device parameters

htop

An improved top

ifmetrics

To set the metrics of all IPV4 routes attached to a given network interface

iftop

To watch metrics for a network interface (or wireless)

iftop-wlan0

iostat

CPU and IO devices stats. I modified some collectors for telegraf and influxdb consumed by grafana for fetching the Write KB/s, Read KB/s, Bandwidth of the Magnetic Spinning drives and SSD during declustered rebuild.

iotop

iperf

Perform network throughput tests

ipmitool

iptables

iscsiadm

java (jre Oracle and OpenJDK)

less
According to manpages, the opposite of more. :)
What it does is display a file, and you can scroll up/down, you can search for patterns…
Examples:
cat /etc/passwd | less
less /etc/passwd
# -n doesn’t count the lines, to save time
# For a specific Offset
less -n +500000000P /var/log/apache2/giant.log
# For 50% point
less -n +50p /var/log/apache2/giant.log

ldap-utils

ltrace
To trace library calls.

mc

Midnight Commander

mc

 

md5sum

mytop

To see in real time queries and slow queries to mysql

ncdu

Show the space used by any directory and subdirectory

ncdu

ncdu-2

nginx (fpm-php) and apache

The webservers

nfs client

nmon

Offers monitoring of different aspects: Network, Disk, Processes…

open-vpn

openssh-server

parted

Partition manipulation

perf

Performance profiler.

Ie:
perf top
perf stat ls

PHP + curl + mysql (hhvm)

python-pip and pypy

pv
Pipe Viewer – is a terminal-based tool for monitoring the progress of data through a pipeline. It can be inserted into any normal pipeline between two processes to give a visual indication of how quickly data is passing through, how long it has taken, how near to completion it is, and an estimate of how long it will be until completion.

dd if=/dev/urandom | pv | dd of=/dev/null

Output:

1,74MB 0:00:09 [ 198kB/s] [      <=>                               ]

screen

sdparm
Access SCSI modes pages; read VPD pages; send simple SCSI commands

slabtop
Displays Kernel slab cache information in real time.

smartctl

Utility for dealing with the S.M.A.R.T. features of the disks, knowing errors…

split
Split a file into several, based by text lines, or binary: number of bytes per file.

sshpass
SSH without typing the password. -f for reading it from a file.
sshpass -p “mypassword” ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no root@10.251.35.251

In this sample passing the command ls, so this will be executed, and logout.
sshpass -p “mypassword” ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no root@10.251.35.251 ls

sshuttle

A poor’s man VPN through SSH that is available for Linux and Mac OS X.

E.g.: sudo sshuttle -r carles@8.8.1.234:8275 172.30.0.0/16

Sshuttle forwards TCP and DNS but does not forward UDP or ICMP. So ping or ipmi protocol won’t work. But it does work for http, https, ssh…

Nice article on tunneling only certain things here.

strace

To trace the system calls and signals.
To redirect the output to another process use:
strace zpool status 2>&1 | less

subversion svn

systemd-cgtop and systemd-analyze

tcpdump

To see the traffic to your NIC

tee

Reads from sdtin and sends to a file and outputs to stdout as well.
For example:

find . -mtime -1 -print | grep -v "/logs/" 2>&1 | tee /var/log/results.log

timeout
Kills the process after the indicated timeout.

timeout 1000 dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/zvol/carles-N51-C5-D8-P2-S1/gb1000

traceroute

xxd
Make a hexdump or do the reverse

sudo xxd /dev/nvme0n1p1 | less

zcat
Just like cat, but for compressed filed.

zcat logs.tar.gz | grep "Error"
zcat logs.tar.gz | less

zram-config

Sergey Davidoff stumbled upon a project called compcache that creates a RAM based block device which acts as a swap disk, but is compressed and stored in memory instead of swap disk (which is slow), allowing very fast I/O and increasing the amount of memory available before the system starts swapping to disk. compcache was later re-written under the name zRam and is now integrated into the Linux kernel.

http://www.webupd8.org/2011/10/increased-performance-in-linux-with.html

Stopping definitively the massive Distributed DoS attack

I explain some final information and tricks and definitive guidance so you can totally stop the DDoS attacks affecting so many sites.

After effectively mitigating the previous DDoS Torrent attack to a point that was no longer harmful, even with thousands of requests, I had another surprise.

It was the morning when I had a brutal increase of the attacks and a savage spike of traffic and requests of different nature, so in addition to the BitTorent attack that never stopped but was harmful. I was on route to the work when the alarms raised into my smartphone. I stopped in a gas station, and started to fix it from the car, in the parking area.

Service was irresponsible, so first thing I did was to close the Firewall (from the Cloud provider panel) to HTTP and HTTPS to the Front Web Servers.

Immediately after that I was able to log in via SSH to the Servers. I tried to open HTTPS for our customers and I was surprised that most of the traffic was going through HTTPS. So I closed both, I called the CEO of the company to give status, and added a rule to the Firewall so the staff on the company would be able to work against the Backoffice Servers and browse the web while I was fixing all the mess. I also instructed my crew and gave instructions to support team to help the business users and to deal with customers issues while I was stopping the attack.

I saw a lot of new attacks in the access logs.

For example, requests like coming from Android SDK. Weird.

I blocked those by modifying the index.php (code in the previous article)

// Patch urgency Carles to stop an attack based on Torrent and exploiting sdk's
// http://blog.carlesmateo.com
if (isset($_GET['info_hash']) || (isset($_GET['format']) && isset($_GET['sdk'])) || (isset($_GET['format']) && isset($_GET['id']))) {

(Note: If your setup allows it and the HOST requested is another (attacks to ip), you can just check requestes HOST and block what’s different, or if not also implement an Apache rule to divert all the traffic to that route (like /announce for Bittorrent attack) to another file.)

Then, with the cron blocking the ip addresses all improved.

Problem was that I was receiving thousands of requests per second, and so, adding those thousands of Ip’s to IPTABLES was not efficient, in fact was so slow, that the process was taking more than an hour. The server continued overwhelmed with thousands of new ip’s per second while it was able to manage to block few per second (and with a performance adding ip’s degraded since the ip number 5,000). It was not the right strategy to fight back this attack.

Some examples of weird traffic over the http logs:

119.63.196.31 - - [01/Feb/2015:06:54:12 +0100] "GET /video/iiiOqybRvsM/images/av
atar/0097.jpg HTTP/1.1" 404 499 "-" "Baiduspider-image+(+http://www.baidu.com/se
arch/spider.htm)\\nReferer: http://image.baidu.com/i?ct=503316480&z=0&tn=baiduim
agedetail"
119.63.196.126 - - [01/Feb/2015:07:15:48 +0100] "GET /video/Ig3ebdqswQI/images/avatar/0114.jpg HTTP/1.1" 404 499 "-" "Baiduspider-image+(+http://www.baidu.com/search/spider.htm)\\nReferer: http://image.baidu.com/i?ct=503316480&z=0&tn=baiduimagedetail"
180.153.206.20 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:34:34 +0100] "GET /contents/all/tokusyu/skin_detail.html HTTP/1.1" 404 492 "-" "Mozilla/4.0"
180.153.206.20 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:34:35 +0100] "GET /contents/gift/ban_gift/skin_gift.js HTTP/1.1" 404 490 "http://top.dhc.co.jp/contents/gift/ban_gift/skin_gift.js" "Mozilla/4.0"
180.153.206.20 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:34:36 +0100] "GET /contents/all/content/skin.js HTTP/1.1" 404 483 "http://top.dhc.co.jp/contents/all/content/skin.js" "Mozilla/4.0
220.181.108.105 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:35:22 +0100] "GET /image/DbLiteGraphic/201405/thumb_14773360.jpg?1414567871 HTTP/1.1" 404 505 "http://image.baidu.com/i?ct=503316480&z=0&tn=baiduimagedetail" "Baiduspider-image+(+http://www.baidu.com/search/spider.htm)"
118.249.207.5 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:39:26 +0100] "GET /widgets.js HTTP/1.1" 404 0 "http://www.javlibrary.com/cn/vl_star.php?&mode=&s=azgcg&page=2" "Mozilla/5.0 (MSIE 9.0; qdesk 2.4.1266.203; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/7.0; rv:11.0; QQBrowser/8.0.3197.400) like Gecko"
120.197.109.101 - - [30/Jan/2015:06:57:20 +0100] "GET /ads/2015/20minutes/publishing/stval/3001.html?pos=6 HTTP/1.1" 404 542 "-" "20minv3/6 CFNetwork/609.1.4 Darwin/13.0.0"
101.226.33.221 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:00:04 +0100] "GET /?LR_PUBLISHER_ID=29877&LR_SCHEMA=vast2-vpaid&LR_PARTNERS=758858&LR_CONTENT=1&LR_AUTOPLAY=1&LR_URL=http://play.retroogames.com/penguin-hockey-lite/?pc1oibq9f5&utm_source=4207933&entId=7a6c6f60cd27700031f2802842eb2457b46e15c0 HTTP/1.1" 200 11783 "http://play.retroogames.com/penguin-hockey-lite/?pc1oibq9f5&utm_source=4207933&entId=7a6c6f60cd27700031f2802842eb2457b46e15c0" "Mozilla/4.0"
180.153.206.20 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:03:10 +0100] "GET /?metric=csync&p=3030&s=6109924323866574861 HTTP/1.1" 200 11783 "http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XODYzNzA0NTk2.html" "Mozilla/4.0"
180.153.114.199 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:05:18 +0100] "GET /?LR_PUBLISHER_ID=78817&LR_SCHEMA=vast2-vpaid&LR_PARTNERS=763110&LR_CONTENT=1&LR_AUTOPLAY=1&LR_URL=http://www.dnd.com.pk/free-download-malala-malala-yousafzai HTTP/1.1" 200 11783 "http://www.dnd.com.pk/free-download-malala-malala-yousafzai" "Mozilla/4.0"
60.185.249.230 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:08:20 +0100] "GET /scrape.php?info_hash=8%e3Q%9a%9c%85%bc%e3%1d%14%213wNi3%28%e9%f0. HTTP/1.1" 404 459 "-" "Transmission/2.77"
180.153.236.129 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:11:10 +0100] "GET /c/lf-centennial-services-hong-kong-limited/hk041664/ HTTP/1.1" 404 545 "http://hk.kompass.com/c/lf-centennial-services-hong-kong-limited/hk041664/" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/5.0); 360Spider(compatible; HaosouSpider; http://www.haosou.com/help/help_3_2.html)"
36.106.38.13 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:18:28 +0100] "GET /op/icon?id=com.wsw.en.gm.ArrowDefense HTTP/1.1" 404 0 "-" "Apache-HttpClient/UNAVAILABLE (java 1.4)"
180.153.114.199 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:19:12 +0100] "GET /?metric=csync&p=3030&s=6109985239380459533 HTTP/1.1" 200 11783 "http://vox-static.liverail.com/swf/v4/admanager.swf" "Mozilla/4.0"
180.153.206.20 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:39:56 +0100] "GET /?metric=csync HTTP/1.1" 20
0 11783 "http://3294027.fls.doubleclick.net/activityi;src=3294027;type=krde;cat=
krde_060;ord=94170148950.07014?" "Mozilla/4.0"
220.181.108.139 - - [30/Jan/2015:07:47:08 +0100] "GET /asset/assetId/5994450/size/large/ts/1408882797/type/library/client/WD-KJLAK/5994450_large.jpg?token=4e703a62ec08791e2b91ec1731be0d13&category=pres&action=thumb HTTP/1.1" 404 550 "http://www.passion-nyc.com/" "Baiduspider-image+(+http://www.baidu.com/search/spider.htm)"

And over HTTPS:

120.197.26.43 - - [29/Jan/2015:00:04:25 +0100] "GET /c/5356/cc.js?ns=_cc5356 HTTP/1.1" 404 11676 "http://m.accuweather.com/zh/cn/guangzhou/102255/current-weather/102255?p=huawei2" "HUAWEI Y325-T00_TD/V1 Linux/3.4.5 Android/2.3.6 Release/03.26.2013 Browser/AppleWebKit533.1 Mobile Safari/533.1;"
120.197.26.43 - - [29/Jan/2015:00:05:32 +0100] "GET /c/5356/cc.js?ns=_cc5356 HTTP/1.1" 404 11674 "http://m.accuweather.com/zh/cn/guangzhou/102255/weather-forecast/102255" "HUAWEI Y325-T00_TD/V1 Linux/3.4.5 Android/2.3.6 Release/03.26.2013 Browser/AppleWebKit533.1 Mobile Safari/533.1;"
117.136.1.106 - - [29/Jan/2015:06:35:05 +0100] "GET /v2.2/237613769760602?format=json&sdk=android&fields=supports_attribution%2Csupports_implicit_sdk_logging%2Cgdpv4_nux_content%2Cgdpv4_nux_enabled%2Candroid_dialog_configs HTTP/1.1" 404 6304 "-" "FBAndroidSDK.3.20.0"
117.136.1.106 - - [29/Jan/2015:06:35:11 +0100] "GET /v2.2/237613769760602?format=json&sdk=android&fields=supports_attribution%2Csupports_implicit_sdk_logging%2Cgdpv4_nux_content%2Cgdpv4_nux_enabled%2Candroid_dialog_configs HTTP/1.1" 404 6308 "-" "FBAndroidSDK.3.20.0"
117.136.1.107 - - [29/Jan/2015:06:35:36 +0100] "GET /v2.2/1493038024241481?fields=name,supports_implicit_sdk_logging,gdpv4_nux_enabled,gdpv4_nux_content,ios_dialog_configs,app_events_feature_bitmask&format=json&sdk=ios HTTP/1.1" 404 6731 "-" "FBiOSSDK.3.22.0"
180.175.55.177 - public [29/Jan/2015:07:40:23 +0100] "GET /public/checksum?a=8&t=p&v=2.5.0&c=d62c8d04f74057d51872d5dc5cdab098 HTTP/1.0" 404 39668 "https://rc-regkeytool.appspot.com/public/checksum?a=8&t=p&v=2.5.0&c=d62c8d04f74057d51872d5dc5cdab098" "Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1C28 Safari/419.3"

So, I was seeing requests that typically do applications like Facebook, smartphones with Android going to google store, and a lot of other applications and sites traffics, that was going diverted to my Ip.

So I saw that this attack was an attack associated to the ip address. I could change the ip in an extreme case and gain some hours to react.

So if those requests were coming from legitimate applications I saw two possibilities:

1. A zombie network controlled by pirates through malware/virus, that changes the /etc/hosts so those devices go to my ip address. Unlikely scenario, as there was a lot of mobile traffic and is not the easiest target of those attacks

2. A Dns Spoofing attack targeting our ip’s

That is an attack that cheats to Dns servers to make them believe that a name resolves to a different ip. (that’s why ssl certificates are so important, and the warnings that the browser raises if the server doesn’t send the right certificate, it allows you to detect that you’re connecting to a fake/evil server and avoid logging etc… if you have been directed a bad ip by a dns poisoned)

I added some traces to get more information, basically I dump the $_SERVER to a file:

$s_server_dump = var_export($_SERVER, true);

file_put_contents($s_debug_log_file, $s_server_dump.”\n”, FILE_APPEND | LOCK_EX);

array (
  'REDIRECT_SCRIPT_URL' => '/announce',
  'REDIRECT_SCRIPT_URI' => 'http://jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com/announce',
  'REDIRECT_STATUS' => '200',
  'SCRIPT_URL' => '/announce',
  'SCRIPT_URI' => 'http://jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com/announce',
  'HTTP_HOST' => 'jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com',
  'HTTP_USER_AGENT' => 'Bittorrent',
  'HTTP_ACCEPT' => '*/*',
  'HTTP_CONNECTION' => 'closed',
  'PATH' => '/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin',
  'SERVER_SIGNATURE' => '<address>Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu) Server at jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com Port 80</address>',
  'SERVER_SOFTWARE' => 'Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu)',
  'SERVER_NAME' => 'jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com',
  'SERVER_ADDR' => 'deleted',
  'SERVER_PORT' => '80',
  'REMOTE_ADDR' => '60.219.115.77',
  'DOCUMENT_ROOT' => 'deleted',
  'REQUEST_SCHEME' => 'http',
  'CONTEXT_PREFIX' => '',
  'CONTEXT_DOCUMENT_ROOT' => 'deleted',
  'SERVER_ADMIN' => 'deleted',
  'SCRIPT_FILENAME' => 'deleted',
  'REMOTE_PORT' => '27361',
  'REDIRECT_QUERY_STRING' => 'info_hash=%26%27%0F%C2%EB%03J%E2%1F%B0%28%2B%29d%7C%8C%FE%C8l%E9&peer_id=%2DSD0100%2Dj%7E%C3%1C%14%FFsj%DA9%0B%27&ip=10.155.31.47&port=9978&uploaded=2244978664&downloaded=2244978664&left=2570039513&numwant=200&key=511&compact=1',
  'REDIRECT_URL' => '/announce',
  'GATEWAY_INTERFACE' => 'CGI/1.1',
  'SERVER_PROTOCOL' => 'HTTP/1.0',
  'REQUEST_METHOD' => 'GET',
  'QUERY_STRING' => 'info_hash=%26%27%0F%C2%EB%03J%E2%1F%B0%28%2B%29d%7C%8C%FE%C8l%E9&peer_id=%2DSD0100%2Dj%7E%C3%1C%14%FFsj%DA9%0B%27&ip=10.155.31.47&port=9978&uploaded=2244978664&downloaded=2244978664&left=2570039513&numwant=200&key=511&compact=1',
  'REQUEST_URI' => '/announce?info_hash=%26%27%0F%C2%EB%03J%E2%1F%B0%28%2B%29d%7C%8C%FE%C8l%E9&peer_id=%2DSD0100%2Dj%7E%C3%1C%14%FFsj%DA9%0B%27&ip=10.155.31.47&port=9978&uploaded=2244978664&downloaded=2244978664&left=2570039513&numwant=200&key=511&compact=1',
  'SCRIPT_NAME' => '/index.php',
  'PHP_SELF' => '/index.php',
  'REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT' => 1422528394.036,
  'REQUEST_TIME' => 1422528394,
)

Some fields were replaced with ‘deleted’ for security.

Ok, so the client was sending a HOST header

jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com

This address resolves as:

ping jonnyfavorite3.appspot.com
PING appspot.l.google.com (74.125.24.141) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from de-in-f141.1e100.net (74.125.24.141): icmp_seq=1 ttl=52 time=1.53 ms

So to google appspot.

Next one:

array (
  'REDIRECT_SCRIPT_URL' => '/v2.2/1493038024241481',
  'REDIRECT_SCRIPT_URI' => 'https://graph.facebook.com/v2.2/1493038024241481',
  'REDIRECT_HTTPS' => 'on',
  'REDIRECT_SSL_TLS_SNI' => 'graph.facebook.com',
  'REDIRECT_STATUS' => '200',
  'SCRIPT_URL' => '/v2.2/1493038024241481',
  'SCRIPT_URI' => 'https://graph.facebook.com/v2.2/1493038024241481',
  'HTTPS' => 'on',
  'SSL_TLS_SNI' => 'graph.facebook.com',
  'HTTP_HOST' => 'graph.facebook.com',
  'HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING' => 'gzip, deflate',
  'CONTENT_TYPE' => 'multipart/form-data; boundary=3i2ndDfv2rTHiSisAbouNdArYfORhtTPEefj3q2f',
  'HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE' => 'zh-cn',
  'HTTP_CONNECTION' => 'keep-alive',
  'HTTP_ACCEPT' => '*/*',
  'HTTP_USER_AGENT' => 'FBiOSSDK.3.22.0',
  'PATH' => '/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin',
  'SERVER_SIGNATURE' => '<address>Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu) Server at graph.facebook.com Port 443</address>',
  'SERVER_SOFTWARE' => 'Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu)',
  'SERVER_NAME' => 'graph.facebook.com',
  'SERVER_ADDR' => 'deleted',
  'SERVER_PORT' => '443',
  'REMOTE_ADDR' => '223.100.159.96',
  'DOCUMENT_ROOT' => 'deletd',
  'REQUEST_SCHEME' => 'https',
  'CONTEXT_PREFIX' => '',
  'CONTEXT_DOCUMENT_ROOT' => 'deleted',
  'SERVER_ADMIN' => 'deleted',
  'SCRIPT_FILENAME' => 'deleted',
  'REMOTE_PORT' => '24797',
  'REDIRECT_QUERY_STRING' => 'fields=name,supports_implicit_sdk_logging,gdpv4_nux_enabled,gdpv4_nux_content,ios_dialog_configs,app_events_feature_bitmask&format=json&sdk=ios',
  'REDIRECT_URL' => '/v2.2/1493038024241481',
  'GATEWAY_INTERFACE' => 'CGI/1.1',
  'SERVER_PROTOCOL' => 'HTTP/1.1',
  'REQUEST_METHOD' => 'GET',
  'QUERY_STRING' => 'fields=name,supports_implicit_sdk_logging,gdpv4_nux_enabled,gdpv4_nux_content,ios_dialog_configs,app_events_feature_bitmask&format=json&sdk=ios',
  'REQUEST_URI' => '/v2.2/1493038024241481?fields=name,supports_implicit_sdk_logging,gdpv4_nux_enabled,gdpv4_nux_content,ios_dialog_configs,app_events_feature_bitmask&format=json&sdk=ios',
  'SCRIPT_NAME' => '/index.php',
  'PHP_SELF' => '/index.php',
  'REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT' => 1422528399.4159999,
  'REQUEST_TIME' => 1422528399,
)

So that was it, connections were arriving to the Server/Load Balancer requesting addresses from Google, Facebook, thepiratebay main tracker, etc… tens of thousands of users simultaneously.

Clearly there was a kind of DNS spoofing attack. And looking at the ACCEPT_LANGUAGE I saw that clients were using Chineses language (zh-cn).

Changing the ip address will take some time, as some dns have 1 hour or several hours of TTL to improve page speed of customers, and both ip’s have to coexist for a while until all the client’s dns have refreshed, browsers have refreshed their cache of dns names, and dns of partners consuming our APIs have refreshed.

You can have a virtual host just blank, but for some projects your virtual hosts needs to listen for all the request, for example, imagine that you serve contents like barcelona.yourdomain.com and for newyork.yourdomain.com and whatever-changing.yourdomain.com like carlesmateo.yourdomaincom, anotheruser.yourdomain.com, anyuserwilhaveownurl.yourdomain.com, that your code process to get the information and render the pages, so it is not always possible to have a default one.

First thing I had to do was, as the attack came from the ip, was to do not allow any host requests that did not belong to the hosts served. That way my framework will not process any request that was not for the exact domains that I expect, and I will save the 404 process time.

Also, if the servers return a white page with few bytes (header), this will harm less the bandwidth if under a DDoS. The bandwidth available is one of the weak points when suffering a DDoS.

To block hosts that are not expected there are several things that can be done, for example:

  • Nginx can easily block those requests not matching the hosts.
  • Modify my script to look at
    HTTP_HOST

    So:
    if (isset($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']) && ($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] != 'www.mydomain.com' && $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] != 'mydomain.com') {
    exit();
    }

    That way any request that is not for the exact domain will be halted quickly.
    You can also check instead strpost($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'], ‘mydomain.com’) for variable HTTP_HOST

  • Create an Apache default virtual host and default ssl. With a white page the load was so small that even tens of thousands ip’s cannot affect enough the server. (Max load was around 2.5%)

Optimization: If you want to save IOPS and network bandwidth to the storage you can create a ramdisk, and have the index.html of the default virtual host in there. This will increase server speed and reduce overhead.

If you’re in a hurry to stop the attack you can also:

  • Change the Ip, get a new ip address, and change the dns to the new ip, and hope this one is not attacked
  • An emergency solution, drastic but effective, would be to block entire China’s ip ranges.

Some of the webs I helped reported having attacks from outside China, but nothing related, the gross attacks, 99%, come from China.

Sadly Amazon’s Cloud Firewall does not allow to deny certain ip addresses, only allow services through a default deny policy.

I reopened the firewall in 80 and 443, so traffic to everyone, checked that the Service was Ok and continued my way to the office.

When later I spoke with some friends, one of them told me about the Chinese government firewall causing this sort of problems worldwide!. Look at this interesting article.

http://blog.sucuri.net/2015/01/ddos-from-china-facebook-wordpress-and-twitter-users-receiving-sucuri-error-pages.html

It is not clear if those DDoS attacks are caused by the Chinese Firewall, by a bug, or by pirates exploiting it to attack sites for money. But is clear that all those attacks and traffic comes from China ip addresses. Obviously this DNS issues are causing the guys browsing on China to not being able of browsing Facebook, WordPres, twitter, etc…

Here you can see live the origin of the world DDoS attacks:

http://www.digitalattackmap.com/#anim=1&color=0&country=ALL&list=0&time=16465&view=map

And China being the source of most of the DDoS attacks.

blog-carlesmateo-com-2015-02-01-15-23-33-china-source-of-attacks