Enable Kernel Parameter to Use TCP Syncookies on Network Interfaces

Description

To set the runtime status of the net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies kernel parameter, run the following command:

$ sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies=1

To make sure that the setting is persistent, add the following line to a file in the directory /etc/sysctl.d:

net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies = 1

Rationale

A TCP SYN flood attack can cause a denial of service by filling a system’s TCP connection table with connections in the SYN_RCVD state. Syncookies can be used to track a connection when a subsequent ACK is received, verifying the initiator is attempting a valid connection and is not a flood source. This feature is activated when a flood condition is detected, and enables the system to continue servicing valid connection requests.

Remediation

Shell script

The following script can be run on the host to remediate the issue.

#!/bin/bash

# Remediation is applicable only in certain platforms
if [ ! -f /.dockerenv ] && [ ! -f /run/.containerenv ]; then

# Comment out any occurrences of net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies from /etc/sysctl.d/*.conf files

for f in /etc/sysctl.d/*.conf /run/sysctl.d/*.conf /usr/local/lib/sysctl.d/*.conf /usr/lib/sysctl.d/*.conf; do

  matching_list=$(grep -P '^(?!#).*[\s]*net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies.*$' $f | uniq )
  if ! test -z "$matching_list"; then
    while IFS= read -r entry; do
      escaped_entry=$(sed -e 's|/|\\/|g' <<< "$entry")
      # comment out "net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies" matches to preserve user data
      sed -i "s/^${escaped_entry}$/# &/g" $f
    done <<< "$matching_list"
  fi
done

#
# Set sysctl config file which to save the desired value
#

SYSCONFIG_FILE="/etc/sysctl.conf"

sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value='<xccdf-1.2:sub idref="xccdf_org.ssgproject.content_value_sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value" use="legacy"/>'


#
# Set runtime for net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies
#
/sbin/sysctl -q -n -w net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies="$sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value"

#
# If net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies present in /etc/sysctl.conf, change value to appropriate value
#	else, add "net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies = value" to /etc/sysctl.conf
#

# Strip any search characters in the key arg so that the key can be replaced without
# adding any search characters to the config file.
stripped_key=$(sed 's/[\^=\$,;+]*//g' <<< "^net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies")

# shellcheck disable=SC2059
printf -v formatted_output "%s = %s" "$stripped_key" "$sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value"

# If the key exists, change it. Otherwise, add it to the config_file.
# We search for the key string followed by a word boundary (matched by \>),
# so if we search for 'setting', 'setting2' won't match.
if LC_ALL=C grep -q -m 1 -i -e "^net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies\\>" "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}"; then
    escaped_formatted_output=$(sed -e 's|/|\\/|g' <<< "$formatted_output")
    LC_ALL=C sed -i --follow-symlinks "s/^net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies\\>.*/$escaped_formatted_output/gi" "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}"
else
    if [[ -s "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}" ]] && [[ -n "$(tail -c 1 -- "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}" || true)" ]]; then
        LC_ALL=C sed -i --follow-symlinks '$a'\\ "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}"
    fi
    printf '%s\n' "$formatted_output" >> "${SYSCONFIG_FILE}"
fi

else
    >&2 echo 'Remediation is not applicable, nothing was done'
fi

Ansible playbook

The following playbook can be run with Ansible to remediate the issue.

- name: List /etc/sysctl.d/*.conf files
  find:
    paths:
    - /etc/sysctl.d/
    - /run/sysctl.d/
    - /usr/local/lib/sysctl.d/
    - /usr/lib/sysctl.d/
    contains: ^[\s]*net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies.*$
    patterns: '*.conf'
    file_type: any
  register: find_sysctl_d
  when: ansible_virtualization_type not in ["docker", "lxc", "openvz", "podman", "container"]
  tags:
  - CJIS-5.10.1.1
  - DISA-STIG-UBTU-20-010412
  - NIST-800-171-3.1.20
  - NIST-800-53-CM-6(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(b)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(1)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(2)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(3)(a)
  - PCI-DSS-Req-1.4.1
  - PCI-DSSv4-1.4.3
  - disable_strategy
  - low_complexity
  - medium_disruption
  - medium_severity
  - reboot_required
  - sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies

- name: Comment out any occurrences of net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies from config files
  replace:
    path: '{{ item.path }}'
    regexp: ^[\s]*net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies
    replace: '#net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies'
  loop: '{{ find_sysctl_d.files }}'
  when: ansible_virtualization_type not in ["docker", "lxc", "openvz", "podman", "container"]
  tags:
  - CJIS-5.10.1.1
  - DISA-STIG-UBTU-20-010412
  - NIST-800-171-3.1.20
  - NIST-800-53-CM-6(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(b)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(1)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(2)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(3)(a)
  - PCI-DSS-Req-1.4.1
  - PCI-DSSv4-1.4.3
  - disable_strategy
  - low_complexity
  - medium_disruption
  - medium_severity
  - reboot_required
  - sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies
- name: XCCDF Value sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value # promote to variable
  set_fact:
    sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value: !!str <xccdf-1.2:sub idref="xccdf_org.ssgproject.content_value_sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value" use="legacy"/>
  tags:
    - always

- name: Ensure sysctl net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies is set
  sysctl:
    name: net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies
    value: '{{ sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies_value }}'
    sysctl_file: /etc/sysctl.conf
    state: present
    reload: true
  when: ansible_virtualization_type not in ["docker", "lxc", "openvz", "podman", "container"]
  tags:
  - CJIS-5.10.1.1
  - DISA-STIG-UBTU-20-010412
  - NIST-800-171-3.1.20
  - NIST-800-53-CM-6(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(b)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(1)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(2)
  - NIST-800-53-SC-5(3)(a)
  - PCI-DSS-Req-1.4.1
  - PCI-DSSv4-1.4.3
  - disable_strategy
  - low_complexity
  - medium_disruption
  - medium_severity
  - reboot_required
  - sysctl_net_ipv4_tcp_syncookies