Sunday 30 September 2012

Compat-Wireless Injection Patch for Aircrack-ng

Update: Compat-Drivers Patch

28 may 2013: My previous patch for compat-drivers was incomplete. The new patch for compat-drivers works for both the 3.8 and 3.9 versions. It will make monitor mode, injecting, changes channels, and fragmentation working properly. Before continuing make sure you have the linux header installed. If not, execute:
apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)
Once the headers are installed, the following commands will download the latest compat-drivers version and apply the updated patch:

Quickstart: Compat-Wireless Patch

To get monitor mode, injecting, changing channels, and fragmentation properly working I recommend downloading the latest stable compat-wireless 3.6 package and applying my patch. This can all be accomplished by executing these commands and then rebooting:

The issue where you aren't able to change channels should be fixed for all drivers, and the ability to inject QoS headers is also fixed for all drivers. An issue specific to the RTL8187 driver used by AWUS036H and AWUS036NH that prevents a successful fragmentation attack is also fixed by my patch.

Background Behind the Patch

Normally when working with the aircrack-ng tool suite or other wireless network tools under linux, it's recommended you use the latest compat-wireless package to get access to the latest drivers. Generally the thought is: the newer the drivers, the better they work. Unfortunately this isn't always true.

First it's good to have a basic understanding of what compat-wireless and compat-drivers offers. Essentially you can think of compat-wireless (in fact, you should) as a sized-down version of the kernel tree, one that contains only the sources of the wireless drivers and the wireless stack. Therefore, you can apply any wireless-related patches to it and recompile them without having to recompile the whole kernel [quoted aircrack-ng docs]. So really it's a backport of the latest drivers so they can be used in older kernels. To make your life more difficult [1] the compat-wireless project has recently been renamed to compat-drivers, and now again seems to be renamed to "backports".

My own problems started when I was working on a few vulnerabilities I found in WPA-TKIP (I found a few bugs that prevented from packets being injected properly). To fix these I first looked at some of the existing patches available from the aircrack-ng directory. But no luck there, and nothing posted on the forum helped either. After messing around I managed to patch the driver myself. But what wasn't working? Well there were three main bugs I encountered:
  1. Unable to change the channel of the monitor interface with the error message "SET failed on device mon0 ; Device or resource busy.".
  2. When injecting packets the Quality of Service (QoS) header was being overwritten by the driver.
  3. Injecting fragments was not working properly. Only the first fragment was being transmitted.
I played around with various configurations and version to see if some of them didn't have these problems. Unfortunately with everything I had problems. In particular I tried the following three things:
  • Backtrack 5 R3: Changing channels worked, but the Quality of Service (QoS) header was overwritten, and when using fragmentation only the first fragment was transmitted.
  • Compat-wireless 3.6 stable: All three problems were present (can't change channel, QoS overwritten, fragmentation not working).
  • Latest snapshot of compat-drivers: All three problems were present.
At one point I also tried using Backtrack 4 with an older release of compat-wireless. But that one also had bugs. Bugs, fucking bugs everywhere. I gave up finding a decent configuration and decided to patch the drivers myself.

Changing Channel

I fixed this bug by commenting out two lines in the function cfg80211_set_monitor_channel of ./net/wireless/chan.c file:
//if (!cfg80211_has_monitors_only(rdev))
//        return -EBUSY;
It appears we couldn't change the channel when "normal" virtual interfaces are also using the device. Looking at the commit history I found the specific commit mentioning this: "having .set_monitor_channel work with non-monitor interfaces running would make interface combinations accounting ambiguous". So the new drivers prevent you from changing the channel if the device is also being used "normally". Practically this means that (if you don't apply my patch) you need to disable them by executing "ifconfig wlanX down" until you only have monitor interfaces over.

However disabling them all the time is annoying, and not many people know this! That's why I decided to remove this check in my patch. Most of the time if you're playing with monitor mode you're not using the device in a normal mode anyway, so this shouldn't be a problem. For the compat-drivers the file ./net/mac80211/cfg.c in function ieee80211_set_monitor_channel also needs to be changed:
} else /*if (local->open_count == local->monitors)*/ {
This again disables the check that only monitor interfaces are allowed to be present. I also found a post on the aircrack-ng wiki explaining how to install the latest compat-wireless and compat-drivers packages. That post discusses an older problem and its solution. So if you tried that one and it failed, try my patch again.

Sending Raw QoS Header

The QoS header is modified in the function ieee80211_set_qos_hdr of ./net/mac80211/wme.c and is called from ieee80211_xmit in ./net/mac80211/tx.c. We simply have to prevent this call from happening in monitor mode.
// Don't overwrite QoS header in monitor mode
if (likely(info->control.vif->type != NL80211_IFTYPE_MONITOR)) {
        ieee80211_set_qos_hdr(sdata, skb);
This kills the bug. As a side node the "likely" macro is used for branch optimization by the compiler.

Patching Fragmentation

This one turned out to be specific to some devices. My patch is for the AWUS036H and AWUS036NH using the RTL8187 driver. The problem is that it will only transmit the first fragment. I did a simple test to further isolate the issue by instructing to driver to send the following frames (from a userland program):
  1. Send the first fragment
  2. Send an ARP request packet
  3. Send the second fragment, which is the last one
It turned out the device actually transmits the ARP request packet first, and only then sends the first fragment! So the hypothesis was that it's first waiting for ALL the fragments before it begins sending them. Furthermore it would only send the next fragment once the previous one has been acknowledged (which isn't detected in monitor mode, hence only the first fragment is transmitted).

Luckily this can easily be fixed by removing the RTL818X_TX_DESC_FLAG_MOREFRAG flag that is being passed to the device (firmware). It will then immediately transmit the fragment. So the patch is at ./drivers/net/wireless/rtl818x/rtl8187/dev.c in the function rtl8187_tx:
// When this flag is set the firmware waits until ALL fragments have
// reached the USB device. Then it sends the first fragments and waits
// for ACK's. Of course in monitor mode it won't receive these ACK's.
if (ieee80211_has_morefrags(tx_hdr->frame_control))
      // If info->control.vif is NULL it's mostly likely in monitor mode
      if (info->control.vif != NULL && info->control.vif->type != NL80211_IFTYPE_MONITOR) {
            flags |= RTL818X_TX_DESC_FLAG_MOREFRAG;
And hurray, that fixed the last bug =)

[1] It's annoying because most tutorials will reference older compat-wireless releases. Also finding the proper links on the new compat-drivers website is annoying.