Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-320: TCP Timestamp Probe (Version 2.9)  

CAPEC-320: TCP Timestamp Probe

TCP Timestamp Probe
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 320
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Stub
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

This OS fingerprinting probe examines the remote server's implementation of TCP timestamps. Not all operating systems implement timestamps within the TCP header, but when timestamps are used then this provides the attacker with a means to guess the operating system of the target. The attacker begins by probing any active TCP service in order to get response which contains a TCP timestamp. Different Operating systems update the timestamp value using different intervals. This type of analysis is most accurate when multiple timestamp responses are received and then analyzed. TCP timestamps can be found in the TCP Options field of the TCP header.

  • 1. The attacker sends a probe packet to the remote host to identify if timestamps are present.
  • 2. If the remote host is using timestamp, the attacker sends several requests and records the timestamp values.
  • 3. The attacker analyzes the timestamp values and determines an average increments per second in the timestamps for the target.
  • 3. The attacker compares this result to a database of known TCP timestamp increments for a possible match.
+ Target Attack Surface

Target Attack Surface Description

Targeted OSI Layers: Network Layer

Target Attack Surface Localities


Target Attack Surface Types: Host

Target Functional Services

Target Functional Service 1: None
Protocol 1: TCP
Protocol Header 1: TCP Header
Protocol Field NameProtocol Field Description
Options Field
Options may occupy space at the end of the TCP header and are a multiple of 8 bits in length. All options are included in the checksum.
Related Protocol: Internet Protocol
Relationship Type
Uses Protocol
+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The target OS must support the TCP timestamp option in order to obtain a fingerprint.

+ Typical Severity


+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
"Varies by context"
Bypass protection mechanism
+ References
[R.320.1] [REF-20] Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray and George Kurtz. "Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets & Solutions". Chapter 2: Scanning, pg. 56. 6th Edition. McGraw Hill. 2009.
[R.320.2] [REF-21] Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Information Processing Techniques Office and Information Sciences Institute University of Southern California. "RFC793 - Transmission Control Protocol". Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). September 1981. <http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc793.html>.
[R.320.3] [REF-22] Gordon "Fyodor" Lyon. "Nmap Network Scanning: The Official Nmap Project Guide to Network Discovery and Security Scanning". Chapter 8. Remote OS Detection. 3rd "Zero Day" Edition,. Insecure.com LLC. 2008.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 07, 2015