Setting up IP over ICMP with hans

Posted on June 2, 2014
Tags: networking Categories: unix


The ISP, China Telecom, interrupted the internet access from my home yesterday due to the expiration of annually subscription of the internet service. While I found that ICMP packets are not blocked. Even though I can’t even do a DNS query, I can ping any server as usual.

The inaccessibility of internet has greatly evoked my anxiety on seeking changes. Well, it’s theoretically possible to carry data in ICMP packets. Therefore, according to the hacker community’s principle, there should already been hackers who made use of this and opened the sources of their programs.

Indeed, searching ‘ICMP tunneling’, I found hans and icmptx. The latter one is more primitive and complicated to use. After several trials and failures, I decide to give icmptx up, and try hans instead.

This article is a tutorial/note about how to establish normal internet connection in the condition that only ICMP packets are allowed to pass through the firewall with hans.

Step 1: Establish the tunnel

From the server side, first start the server.

  # ./hans -s -m 10000

The option -s specifies the inet address for the tunnel interface, and the -m specifies the size of mtu.

Then try to connect from the client.

 # ./hans -c <server_ip> -m 10000

Please beware the mtu should be matched between the server and the client, otherwise it might cause problems.

In addition, you should switch off the normal response to ICMP echo request.

 # sysctl net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all=1

Because the ICMP packets should now be handled all by hans. But if you still want to have it working, add -s option whiling launching the server side of hans.

Choosing the size of MTU

Without specifying the mtu manually in the command’s argument, hans will automatically choose the system default one. It will normally be around 1500. But this would be a little bit small to communicate over ICMP. In practice, with a default mtu value of 1500, the download speed can hardly reach 7 KiB/second. While as it changes 10 000, the speed went around 10 KiB/second.

Nonetheless, you can try various values of mtu and find your best fit.

Testing the tunnel

Now the tunnel should be established. From the client side, you should see that the inet address of tun0 is chosen automatically according to the server’s configuration. Otherwise, if you haven’t seen any valid inet address for the client tun0 interface, the connection is not established successfully. At this time, check if the operations above take effect and ensure you have a working internet connection (at least ICMP packet is not blocked).

From the server, you can ping the the ip of tun0 in the client-side and it should work good. While pinging from the client-side would possibly be not working except you have specified the -s option to hans command.

Step 2: Configure forwarding routing on the server

On the server:

 # iptables -F
 # iptables -F -t nat
 # iptables -A FORWARD -i tun0 -j ACCEPT
 # iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

Don’t forget to enable IP forwarding:

 # sysctl net.ipv4.ip_forwarding=1

Step 3: Configure the routing table

We should now redirect all packets through the tunnel to the server.

 # ip route del default
 # ip route add default via

It’s necessary to specify how the server side can be reached.

 # ip route add <server_ip> via <original_router>

So there won’t be a circular packet transmission.


Resources that might help

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