[Bro] weird behavior in binpac-generated analyzer

Ruoming Pang rpang at cs.princeton.edu
Wed Aug 20 08:43:37 PDT 2008

Hi Martin,

Can you post your binpac script?


On Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 11:02 AM, Martin Szydlowski <msz at seclab.tuwien.ac.at
> wrote:

> Hello again,
> Half a day more of GDB have unearthed the root cause of this problem. I
> am posting this, since this is behavior that potential developers of Bro
> analyzers will want to know about. Or possibly, it is a bug.
> In my binpac grammar, at one point I need to decide which rule to take
> based on the state of both upflow and downflow. The first payload packet
> (handshake) comes from upflow and, while processing, I check if a bit is
> set. The second packet processed is the handshake from downflow where
> the bit is also checked. For any subseqent packets/messages a different
> rule is taken depending on if both bits are set or not.
> However, Bro does something (at least for me) unexpected. After
> processing the upflow handshake, it starts processing the next message
> in this flow, although the data is not there yet. Since the downflow
> message has not been processed yet the flag is not set, and Bro decides
> (somehow correctly) that the next message is going to be of the standard
> type. It creates a message object, and sets the FlowBuffer frame size to
> 4, since this is how long the next message is at least supposed to be.
> Then it stops processing since the data isn't actually there, and starts
> working on the downflow.
> When the processing comes back to the upflow, the downflow handshake has
> been parsed and the flag set. Therefore, Bro does not reuse the message
> object, but creates a new one for the other type of message. However,
> the state in FlowBuffer (namely the frame size) is not reset, and the
> first step in parsing the new message is to skip the 4 bytes from the
> (actually nonexistent) previous message which effectively swallows the
> first 4 bytes of the current message - and that causes the parsing to
> use the wrong fields and in the end causes an out_of_bounds exception
> that stops the processing.
> I my grammar, I did not expect processing of messages before they arrive
> and it should work perfectly fine when the messages are processed in the
> same order they appear in the dump file. I'm curious if the observed
> behavior is some sort of optimization that you just need to consider
> when writing binpac grammars (and even more wondering if for some cases
> it's possible to write the grammar in the required way) or if protocols
> where both sides contribute to the state have not been considered when
> designing binpac. I have noticed that the Bro wiki mentions the
> $context.flow macro but not the $context.connection macro which is also
> there. For now, I am rewriting my grammar in the hope that I can
> circumvent my problem, but I would welcome any comments or
> clarifications from the authors or savvy developers on that issue.
> greetz Martin
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