Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-329: ICMP Error Message Quoting Probe (Version 2.10)  

CAPEC-329: ICMP Error Message Quoting Probe

ICMP Error Message Quoting Probe
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 329
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Stable
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

An adversary uses a technique to generate an ICMP Error message (Port Unreachable, Destination Unreachable, Redirect, Source Quench, Time Exceeded, Parameter Problem) from a target and then analyze the amount of data returned or "Quoted" from the originating request that generated the ICMP error message. For this purpose "Port Unreachable" error messages are often used, as generating them requires the attacker to send a UDP datagram to a closed port on the target. The goal of this analysis to make inferences about the type of operating system or firmware that sent the error message in reply. This is useful for identifying unique characteristics of operating systems because the RFC-1122 expected behavior reads: "Every ICMP error message includes the Internet header and at least the first 8 data octets of the datagram that triggered the error; more than 8 octets MAY be sent [...]." This contrasts with RFC-792 expected behavior, which limited the quoted text to 64 bits (8 octets). Given the latitude in the specification the resulting RFC-1122 stack implementations often respond with a high degree of variability in the amount of data quoted in the error message because "older" or "legacy" stacks may comply with the RFC-792 specification, while other stacks may choose a longer format in accordance with RFC-1122. As a general rule most operating systems or firmware will quote the first 8 bytes of the datagram triggering the error, but some IP stacks will quote more than the first 8 bytes of data.

+ 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: ICMP
Protocol Header 1
Protocol RFCProtocol Field NameProtocol Field DescriptionProtocol Operation CodeProtocol Data
RFC 792
The ICMP Type Field determines the function of the ICMP query. A Type 8 message directs the target to reply to the sender of the echo request message with an echo reply message. In forming an echo reply the source and destination addresses are switched, the Type field is set to '0', any data contained in the data portion of the echo request is sent "echoed" back to the host, and the checksum is recalculated.
ICMP echo requests may contain arbitrary data as a payload. When the ICMP Type is 8 (echo request), the data received in the echo message must be returned in the echo reply message.
Related Protocol: Internet Protocol
Relationship Type
Uses Protocol
+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The ability to monitor and interact with network communications.

    Access to at least one host, and the privileges to interface with the network interface card.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Medium

+ Resources Required

A tool capable of sending/receiving UDP datagram packets from a remote system to a closed port and receive an ICMP Error Message Type 3, "Port Unreachable..

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Read application data
Bypass protection mechanism
Hide activities
+ References
[R.329.1] [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.329.2] [REF-23] J. Postel. "RFC792 - Internet Control Messaging Protocol". Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). September 1981. <http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc792.html>.
[R.329.3] [REF-24] R. Braden, Ed.. "RFC1122 - Requirements for Internet Hosts - Communication Layers". October 1989. <http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1122.html>.
[R.329.4] [REF-26] Ofir Arkin. "A Remote Active OS Fingerprinting Tool using ICMP". The Sys-Security Group. April 2002. <http://ofirarkin.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/login.pdf>.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2017-05-01Updated Attack_Motivation-Consequences, Attack_Prerequisites, Description Summary, Related_Attack_Patterns, Resources_Required, Typical_Likelihood_of_ExploitInternal
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: May 01, 2017