Netflix isn’t the first name to come to mind when considering security research firms, but they make heavy use of FreeBSD in their content delivery system and do security research as a result. Their first security bulletin of the year, not surprisingly, covers a FreeBSD vulnerability that happens to also affect Linux kernels from the last 10 years. This vulnerability uses SACKs and odd MSS values to crash a server kernel.
To understand Selective ACKs, we need to step back and look at how TCP connections work. TCP connections provide guaranteed delivery, implemented in the from of ACKnowledgement (ACK) packets. We think of a TCP connection as having a dedicated ACK packet for every data packet. In reality, the Operating System makes great effort to avoid sending “naked” ACK packets, and combines multiple ACKs in a single packet. An ACK is simply a flag in a packet header combined with a running total of bytes received, and can be included in a normal data packet. As much as is possible, the ACK for data received is sent along with data packets flowing in the opposite direction. Continue reading “This Week In Security: SACK Of Death, Rambleed, HIBP For Sale, And Oracle Weblogic — Again!”