Home » Information, OpenSourceSoftware, PADS, PRADS, Security » PRADS, and how it compares to pads and p0fv2 and p0fv3

The question was brought up to me late last night on IRC, as p0fv3 RC was recently announced. This is a short answer to that question:

“People that find the PRADS page and already know p0f or pads may be interested in a comparison or essentially arguments why you would use one over the other.”

First off, its exiting to see Michal Zalewski back with p0fv3 :) I quickly read through his code yesterday and tested it out, and its rather interesting how he solves things. The fingerprint database at the moment is limited, but expect that to grow in the near future. I also love his non formal output in his applications :)

So, back to the questions. First off, pads “Passive Asset Detection System” uses regexp syntax to look for common bytes in payload to identify server application. So if the server says ” Server: Apache/2.2.3 (Linux/SUSE)” that is collected as what service is running on the server port where this was detected. The “rules” can be written more specifically for each server software, but are rather general and small today. Some pads “rules” look for ASCII strings, and some for different bytes in hex etc. to identify stuff like SSL/TLS. Pads is no longer actively developed by the original author, but I do maintain a fork of the last version with enhancements added.

PRADS extended the way pads does asset detection. We have build in IPv6 support in PRADS, so it also detects asset listening on IPv6 addresses. We also have build in connection tracking, so that we can cut off detection in a stream after an amount of packets or bytes seen from the client or server. This to drop trying to look for server/client assets in connections that transfers big files or are encrypted etc. Most “banners/identifiers” are in the first packet etc. so limiting for how many packets in a stream to do detection on helps on performance etc.

To extend pads a bit, we also added detection for client applications using the same method as for detecting server applications.

My future thoughts on enhancing the pads/PRADS asset rules are to make them more like the Snort/Suricata rule language and use fast pattern matching before invoking the pcre method etc. Pads does no OS fingerprinting per say btw.

[PRADS vs p0f]
PRADS tcp fingerprinting was based on the p0fv2 way as p0f had the fingerprint DB and we thought that reusing the fingerprints would make it easier for people to migrate if they wanted, instead of recollecting and adding fingerprints. PRADS also added some touches of its own (for IPv6 etc) and the way we match the fingerprints (and fuzzing). We have thought about extending the fingerprints and re-write them, but thats in the future. Right now they are doing a good job. We also added all the p0fv2 ways of fingerprinting to the whole tcp session, from the syn to the rst/fin. p0fv2 could just use one method at a time, depending on how you started p0fv2. PRADS outputs all the info it gathers, and leaves the final correlation to the end user/program etc. A good example on that is prads-asset-report and prads2snort, which ads wight to each type of fingerprints, ranging the syn and syn+ack higher than stray-ack, rst and fin etc. You can also base the final guess on client or server applications to, say if the User-Agent contains: “Linux” or “Windows NT 6.1″ or “Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.7″ etc.
or if the Server string of the web server is: “Microsoft-IIS 6.0″ or “Apache 2.2.15 (FreeBSD)” or “Apache 2.2.3 (Red Hat)” etc.

The p0fv3 tcp fingerprints are new in the way they are written. A new fingerprint file format, that makes it easy to add different types of fingerprints into one and same file (TCP/HTTP/SMTP etc). The most significant enhancement in the TCP fingerprints that I see is the MSS and MTU multiplier field. p0fv3 also detects new quirks not measured in p0fv2. The rules are now also more human readable, Example:

label = s:unix:Linux:2.6.x
sig = *:64:0:*:mss*4,6:mss,sok,ts,nop,ws:df,id+:0

# Will match:
.-[ X.X.X.X/58435 -> Y.Y.Y.Y/22 (syn) ]-
| client = X.X.X.X/58435
| os = Linux 2.6.x
| dist = 9
| params = none
| raw_sig = 4:55+9:0:1460:mss*4,6:mss,sok,ts,nop,ws:df,id+:0

The way the tcp fingerprints are matched are also changed a bit, and I believe Michal Zalewski has done this for good reasons and that it will enhance the detection.

Beside the new tcp fingerprint changes, p0fv3 also has application layer detection added. I looked at the HTTP stuff, and p0fv3 matches also on the HTTP header order and dont blindly trust the User-Agent, as we do in PRADS. We have thought about extending the “rule/signature” in PRADS to be more Snort/Suricata like, so you can have more content matches etc, but more accuracy can be achieved today using the pcre language, to verify header order etc, before blindly trusting the UA, but pcre is way too expensive used alone I think, so organizing the signatures/rules better internally and having something like a fast_pattern matcher would help alot. Quick pcre example for a User-Agent with specific HTTP header order:

# Detects Firefox/3.6.X with HTTP header order to add confidence in the match.
# PRADS rule:
http,v/MFF 3.6.X/$1//,\r\nHost: .*\r\nUser-Agent: Mozilla\/5\.0 (.*Firefox\/3\.6\..*)\r\nAccept: .*\r\nAccept-Language: .*\r\nAccept-Encoding: .*\r\nAccept-Charset:

Running it in PRADS on an old pcap gives me:

# Client IPs deducted just to be kind
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101027 Ubuntu/10.04 (lucid) Firefox/3.:80:6],[distance:8]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-GB; rv: Gecko/20101027 Ubuntu/10.10 (maverick) Firefox:80:6],[distance:11]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv: Gecko/20101026 Firefox/3.6.12 ( .NET CLR 3.:80:6],[distance:10]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101026 Firefox/3.6.12 (.NET CLR :80:6],[distance:14]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101027 Linux Mint/10 (Julia) Firefox/3:80:6],[distance:15]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101027 Ubuntu/10.10 (maverick) Firefox:80:6],[distance:9]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101026 Firefox/3.6.12:80:6],[distance:6]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100625 Firefox/3.6.6:80:6],[distance:12]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; es-ES; rv: Gecko/20101026 Firefox/3.6.12:80:6],[distance:14]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101005 Fedora/3.6.10-1.fc14 Firefox/3.:80:6],[distance:8]
[client:MFF 3.6.X (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101027 Ubuntu/10.04 (lucid) Firefox/3.:80:6],[distance:12]

Not the whole User-Agent is grabbed, and we need to extend that in the future. But the pcre language makes it possible to match on as much content as you want, to have the confidence you need in your signatures/rules for detecting assets. PRADS looks for client and server applications on all ports and both UDP and TCP and for IPv4 and IPv6.

[PRADS vs The World]
Right now we are working on adding the DHCP OS fingerprinting and ICMP OS fingerprinting. DHCP is pushed to the git master on github but is not fully integrated into the PRADS core yet, but printing and matching is working, so you can help add fingerprints if you want :) . The ICMP part is tricky as I want to fingerprint on the protocol layer, and also the payload, so I kind of have to combine the p0f way with the pads way of detecting and matching.

PRADS has also lots of other stuff, like connection tracking/Flow gathering with output compatible with cxtracker and sancp. I have also been working on my passivedns project, and I tend to port the relevant function over to PRADS, so we can have domain names mapped with assets to.

p0fv3 has an API so you can talk to it, to fetch relevant info about the IPs it knows about. I see p0fv3 with this functionality aimed at mail and web servers etc, to determine if this is spam or ham stuff coming its way, but you can use it in lots of cool ways.
I know PRADS is used in much the same way from people I have talked too. An example that Kacper put up can be found on http://prads.delta9.pl/. On the road map for upcoming PRADS releases, we have access to assets via shared memory. That will make it easier for extracting info from the running PRADS process that is current. PRADS also ships with prads2db.pl which parses a prads asset log-file and inserts the info to a DB so you can query it for info.

PRADS philosophy is something like: “If it can be detect passively, PRADS should probably do it.”

So if you are comparing for deciding which application to go for, I would say use them all, and correlate the the knowledge that each tool gives you. You can even add the output from the active fingerprinting tool nmap into the mix.

That said, much of my view on PRADS comes from that I use it in my Network Security Monitoring setup and from my wish to “know as much as possible about my assets”. If you have any wishes or suggestions, god or bad etc, feel free to contact us.


One Response to “PRADS, and how it compares to pads and p0fv2 and p0fv3”

  1. Andre Gironda
    February 18th, 2014 at 17:18 | #1

    Interested to integrate Squert — squertproject.org. The book from — appliednsm.com — suggests PRADS but not Squert, while The Practice of Network Security Monitoring — http://www.nostarch.com/nsm — mentions Squert and PRADS, but not together. Additionally, I’d be curious to see further integration with OSSIM to get that nmap, OpenVAS, or similar active data correlated with PRADS’ passive data.

    Screenshots, documentation, and case studies of these integrations will be warmly welcomed.

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