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SSL fingerprinting for p0f

17 June 2012

In January Lcamtuf announced a complete rewrite of his passive fingerprinting tool p0f. Historically p0f was a low-level tool focused on fingerprinting layer 4, mostly SYN and SYN-ACK TCP/IP packets.

The new version of p0f is different: not only it can look at low level packets, but also it is capable of fingerprinting higher-level application protocols. Currently it is able to do HTTP fingerprinting and the author suggests other protocols might soon follow.

By a strange coincidence, recently I've been interested in SSL fingerprinting.

Fingerprinting SSL

In my previous article I've described the structure of SSL/TLS ClientHello packet.

Importantly, it contains a list of supported ciphers and extensions.

Unsurprisingly, those lists differ between clients and often it is possible to identify an SSL client by looking at them. In other words - it is possible to distinguish Firefox, Chrome, Opera and IE apart by just looking at the initial HTTPS packet, which is unencrypted.

This topic was already researched in the past, most notably by Ivan Ristić in June 2009. Ivan published a lot of interesting data, but seemed to focus on the SSL cipher list, ignoring the ordering of ciphers and other potential sources of data, like TLS extensions.

SSL and p0f

I decided to work on more elaborate SSL fingerprinting and publish it as a p0f module. The code is available as a patch against p0f 3.05b.

Detailed description is available in docs/ssl-notes.txt and README.

In summary, this code looks at traffic passing by and looks for SSL ClientHello packets. It is able to decode both SSLv2 and SSLv3 / TLS handshakes. Based on information in such a packet it generates a fingerprint; for example, my Chrome 19 produces:


The fingerprint is composed out of four colon separated fields:

  1. Requested SSL version.

  2. Ciphers the client supports, without changing the order. In theory ciphers are sent in an order of preference.

  3. Specified extensions, without altering the order.

  4. Additional flags, which identify few types of special behaviour. In my case this field notes that Chrome supports SSL compression.


Next, the fingerprint is matched against a database of predefined signatures. If a match is found, p0f can say few things about the client, usually a browser name, possible versions and sometimes a platform.

A full match for my Chrome looks like:

app         = Chrome 6 or newer
drift       = 0
remote_time = 1338926865
match_sig   = 3.1:c00a,c014,88,87,39,38,c00f,*,c003,feff,a:?0,ff01,a,b,23,3374:compr
raw_sig     = 3.1:c00a,c014,88,87,39,38,c00f,c005,84,35,c007,c009,c011,c013,45,44,66,33,32,c00c,c00e,c002,c004,96,41,5,4,2f,c008,c012,16,13,c00d,c003,feff,a:?0,ff01,a,b,23,3374:compr

Finally, the SSLv3 handshake contains a client's GMT time field which you can see above in the remote_time field. It would be interesting to see if it is possible to do fingerprinting based on clock skew.

You can see the fingerprint of your browser using the online experiment:

Continue reading about scanning SSL servers →