What’s Normal? Connection Sizes, (Wed, Oct 4th)

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Following up on the “What’s Normal” diary from a couple of weeks ago, I have a new one: The size of connections. I am going to focus on the number of bytes being transmitted.

First of all, how to get the data. I am using my JSON formatted zeek logs again to extract the raw data (this may be easier with netflow data):

zcat conn.*gz | jq ‘. | select(.proto==”udp”) | (.orig_ip_bytes+.resp_ip_bytes)’ | sort | uniq -c > /tmp/udpsize.txt
zcat conn.*gz | jq ‘. | select(.proto==”tcp”) | (.orig_ip_bytes+.resp_ip_bytes)’ | sort | uniq -c > /tmp/tcpsize.txt

For additional analysis, I use the “datamash” tool, available via apt for Debian Linux or homebrew for macOS. 

datamash count 1 mean 1 median 1 min 1 max 1 < tcpsize.txt
741776    81431.352935388    1275    0    829044805

datamash count 1 mean 1 median 1 min 1 max 1 < udpsize.txt
1084957    10447.352885875    200    0    687501036

Making this a bit more readable as a table:


81,431 Bytes
1275 Bytes

10,447 Bytes
200 Bytes

Overall, this is what I expected. There are more (and shorter) UDP connections compared to TCP connections. Both do include extremely large connections with a couple hundred MBytes being transferred.

Let’s visualize this quickly with gnuplot:

What is surprising is the large number of very short connections for TCP. This is confirmed by looking at the raw data:

 126874 44
  21604 60
   8936 52
   7840 260
   7213 104
   5854 449

There are many TCP connections with 44 or 60 bytes. This isn’t surprising: Incomplete connections (portscans?). 40 bytes is an IP and TCP header with no option. 44 bytes gets us a single TCP option, like a maximum segment size (MSS). 

So I probably should have eliminated them as anomalies.

Regarding the very large connections: 

The TCP connection went to Wasabi, a cloud storage provider I use for backups. The UDP connection turned out to be a device using a VPN (as it should in this case). So nothing “bad”, but two more things ruled out and explained :).

Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D. , Dean of Research, SANS.edu

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