While I haven't done a rigorous comparison of this idea to fwknop yet, a few initial thoughts come to mind.  Sure, a single SYN is kind of cool, but:

- Obviously their architecture is highly Linux-specific, non-portable, and even requires userspace modification for any application that wishes to use it.  None of these statements is true for fwknop (by design).
- Their use of a single round of MD5 against a shared secret and a few parameters like the destination IP and destination port doesn't really provide "stealth" (perhaps I missed their definition of this?).  I mean, of their own admission, replay attacks aren't protected against, so presumably this means that each ISN sent through their code for each destination IP/port pair is identical unless the shared secret is manually changed.  On the assumption that modern TCP stacks randomize ISN's (or at least follow some +N rule), it would not be difficult to write a detector for TCP connections that are gated by the 'knock' patch.
- Once 'knock' communications are detected, compromise of the source network implies complete compromise of 'knock' without knowledge of the key because there is no built-in defense against replay attacks.  I suppose this is mostly damaging in the context of NAT from the source network - i.e. the specific end point system behind a NAT does not have to be compromised in order to also compromise 'knock' past the NAT.  This is not true for fwknop.
- If stealth isn't really achieved (see above), then what is the advantage of patching the kernel as opposed to pursuing a userspace implementation?  Further, if there isn't a really compelling reason to patch the kernel, there are a lot of reasons _not_ to patch the kernel.
- It seems that working with NAT can and should also imply some ability to support server-side NAT.  This is fully supported by fwknop (iptables only for now, but ipfw and pf will follow).

Other thoughts?

Thanks,

--Mike


On Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:50 PM, Blair Zajac <blair@orcaware.com> wrote:
Just saw this:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTU0MDQ

Blair

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