tcp: Restore RFC5961-compliant behavior for SYN packets

Commit c3ae62af8e755 ("tcp: should drop incoming frames without ACK
flag set") was created to mitigate a security vulnerability in which a
local attacker is able to inject data into locally-opened sockets by
using TCP protocol statistics in procfs to quickly find the correct
sequence number.

This broke the RFC5961 requirement to send a challenge ACK in response
to spurious RST packets, which was subsequently fixed by commit
7b514a886ba50 ("tcp: accept RST without ACK flag").

Unfortunately, the RFC5961 requirement that spurious SYN packets be
handled in a similar manner remains broken.

RFC5961 section 4 states that:

   ... the handling of the SYN in the synchronized state SHOULD be
   performed as follows:

   1) If the SYN bit is set, irrespective of the sequence number, TCP
      MUST send an ACK (also referred to as challenge ACK) to the remote


      After sending the acknowledgment, TCP MUST drop the unacceptable
      segment and stop processing further.

   By sending an ACK, the remote peer is challenged to confirm the loss
   of the previous connection and the request to start a new connection.
   A legitimate peer, after restart, would not have a TCB in the
   synchronized state.  Thus, when the ACK arrives, the peer should send
   a RST segment back with the sequence number derived from the ACK
   field that caused the RST.

   This RST will confirm that the remote peer has indeed closed the
   previous connection.  Upon receipt of a valid RST, the local TCP
   endpoint MUST terminate its connection.  The local TCP endpoint
   should then rely on SYN retransmission from the remote end to
   re-establish the connection.

This patch lets SYN packets through the discard added in c3ae62af8e755,
so that spurious SYN packets are properly dealt with as per the RFC.

The challenge ACK is sent unconditionally and is rate-limited, so the
original vulnerability is not reintroduced by this patch.

Signed-off-by: Calvin Owens <>
Acked-by: Eric Dumazet <>
Acked-by: Neal Cardwell <>
Signed-off-by: David S. Miller <>
1 file changed