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Using TCP Traceroute on Windows And Linux

TCP Traceroute Concepts and Usability

Objective: Understanding how tcp traceroute works and How to use it

Environment: Windows Vista, CentOS 5

Concepts:
1. What’s TCP traceroute
TCPtraceroute is a traceroute implementation using TCP packets.

The more traditional traceroute(8) sends out either UDP or ICMP ECHO packets with a TTL of one, and increments the TTL until the destination has been reached. By printing the gateways that generate ICMP time exceeded messages along the way, it is able to determine the path packets are taking to reach the destination.

The problem is that with the widespread use of firewalls on the modern Internet, many of the packets that traceroute(8) sends out end up being filtered, making it impossible to completely trace the path to the destination. However, in many cases, these firewalls will permit inbound TCP packets to specific ports that hosts sitting behind the firewall are listening for connections on. By sending out TCP SYN packets instead of UDP or ICMP ECHO packets, tcptraceroute is able to bypass the most common firewall filters.

2. How to use it under Linux and Windows
You can use tcptraceroute under Linux and tracetcp (http://tracetcp.sourceforge.net/) under Windows.
Actually, under CentOS 5.5, traceroute command has many options which you can use to do tcp(-T) traceroute by default, you can also use it do tranditioanl udp(-U) traceroute or use icmp(-I) ping packets to do it like tracert on Windows.

3. How tcptraceroute or tracetcp works
it uses tcp syn package and set ttl as 1 as initial packet to send to network. Each hop will decrease ttl by 1, so each hop will generate a time exceed icmp packet back to the sender, those icmp packet includes the original packet information. For the next hop, the sender will use TTL 2 until the destination which will also send back TCP syn/ack reply to the sender.

4. examples – use traceroute to know network path
example 1: tcptraceroute to www.redhat.com
[root@linuxtest ~]# tcptraceroute www.redhat.com -p 443 -f 2
traceroute to www.redhat.com (118.214.80.112), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
3 172.20.16.65 (172.20.16.65) 27.082 ms 27.637 ms 34.125 ms
4 172.26.16.1 (172.26.16.1) 38.854 ms 38.752 ms 38.627 ms
5 172.20.7.26 (172.20.7.26) 38.446 ms 38.280 ms 38.156 ms
6 172.20.7.82 (172.20.7.82) 38.031 ms 37.900 ms 37.753 ms
7 203.117.34.101 (203.117.34.101) 37.872 ms 41.769 ms 43.676 ms
8 203.117.34.6 (203.117.34.6) 54.960 ms 32.379 ms 34.262 ms
9 203.117.34.13 (203.117.34.13) 54.193 ms 30.849 ms 30.678 ms
10 203.117.34.1 (203.117.34.1) 62.952 ms 32.438 ms 41.922 ms
11 58.27.106.253 (58.27.106.253) 65.721 ms 46.337 ms 58.054 ms
12 a118-214.80-112.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com (118.214.80.112) 54.972 ms 63.682 ms 63.171 ms

C:\tracetcp>tracetcp www.redhat.com:443 -h 3

Tracing route to 184.85.48.112 [a184-85-48-112.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com] on
port 443
Over a maximum of 30 hops.
3 32 ms 50 ms 56 ms 172.20.16.65
4 34 ms 14 ms 33 ms 172.26.16.1
5 503 ms 14 ms 68 ms 172.20.7.34
6 43 ms 170 ms 25 ms 203.117.35.9
7 28 ms 86 ms 26 ms 203.117.34.2
8 216 ms 168 ms 99 ms 203.117.34.14
9 * * * Request timed out.
10 Destination Reached in 211 ms. Connection established to 184.85.48.112
Trace Complete.

example 2: detect transparent proxy in between
[root@linuxtest ~]# tcptraceroute www.redhat.com -f 2
traceroute to www.redhat.com (118.214.80.112), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
3 172.20.16.65 (172.20.16.65) 16.943 ms 23.115 ms 31.587 ms
4 172.26.16.1 (172.26.16.1) 31.742 ms 31.969 ms 32.348 ms
5 172.20.7.26 (172.20.7.26) 43.759 ms 43.591 ms 43.662 ms
6 172.20.7.82 (172.20.7.82) 37.583 ms 38.229 ms 37.181 ms
7 a118-214.80-112.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com (118.214.80.112) 50.047 ms 49.993 ms 49.987 ms

C:\tracetcp>tracetcp www.redhat.com -h 3

Tracing route to 184.85.48.112 [a184-85-48-112.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com] on
port 80
Over a maximum of 30 hops.
3 39 ms 36 ms 27 ms 172.20.16.65
4 51 ms 34 ms 15 ms 172.26.16.1
5 50 ms 46 ms 68 ms 172.20.7.34
6 Destination Reached in 59 ms. Connection established to 184.85.48.112
Trace Complete.

Compare above port 80 output with port 443, we know there’s transparent proxy in-between, it stops before reaching redhat.com

5. examples – use tracetcp and nc to detect open ports
[root@linuxtest ~]# nc -zv www.redhat.com 443
Connection to www.redhat.com 443 port [tcp/https] succeeded!

C:\tracetcp>tracetcp www.redhat.com -s 442 443
[184.85.48.112:442] 128 * Request timed out.
[184.85.48.112:443] 128 Dest. in 210 ms. Port OPEN on 184.85.48.112

6. examples – use tracetcp or tcptraceroute to detect blocked ports
C:\tracetcp>tracetcp www.redhat.com:139

Tracing route to 184.85.48.112 [a184-85-48-112.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com] on
port 139
Over a maximum of 30 hops.
1 3 ms 2 ms 2 ms 192.168.1.1
2 * * * Request timed out.
3 * * * Request timed out.
4 * * * Request timed out.
5 * *
Terminate Event Occurred.

Note: above output shows after home router gateway, the ISP blocks port 139 at hop 2.
If you setup a server at home, use cable modem connection, you can test it from Internet if the port you are using is blocked by ISP or not.

7. Others
a. debug feature on tcptraceroute.
You can download the latest version, tcptraceroute 1.5beta7, the -d option is for debug output, very useful.

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