Correct sorting with Frama-C and some thoughts on Formal Methdos

12 02 2011

A couple of years ago, during my masters on Formal Methods I have been working with automatic provers and I also used Frama-C, this is a tool that allow the user to prove C code directly in the source code, using a special notation in the comments, called ACSL notation.

Frama-C allows you to make two kinds of proofs, security and safety ones. The safety ones are related with arrays index out of bounds access, and so. This kind of proofs are related to the language itself and they are easy to do if you use loop invariants, pre and post conditions.
If you use a high level language, like JAVA you won’t have almost none safety problems.
Because C is too close to machine level code, we can do things that we do not intend (or maybe we do and we use C exactly because it allows this kind of things). For example:

// foo.c file
#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
    char *a = "I like you";
    char *b = "I hate you";
    if(&a < &b) a = *(&a + 1); 
    else        a = *(&a - 1); 

    printf("%s\n", a); 

As you can see, I never used the b variable for nothing, just have declared it. And the result is:

[ulissesaraujocosta@maclisses:c]-$ gcc -o foo foo.c 
[ulissesaraujocosta@maclisses:c]-$ ./foo
I hate you

This lack of security of language C is one of the reasons we need to write safety statements. Of course this kind of things is why C is so fast and powerful, the person in charge is always the programmer. If you are interested in this kind of tricks and want to understand more about this and smashing the stack and so, feel free to read more posts in my blog about this subject.

The other kind of statements (security ones) are related to the functionality of the program and that’s basically where the problem or the effort is, I will talk about this later on. First let’s see the algorithm and the implementation in C.


The algorithm I use here is just a simple example. I used bubble sort, this is a sort algorithm not very efficient, but it uses none more memory then the needed to store the structure you want to sort.
To get a visual understanding of the algorithm (and to see it inefficiency) check out this youtube video.

This is the implementation of the algorithm:

void swap(int *i, int *j) {
    int tmp = *i;
    *i = *j;
    *j = tmp;

void bubbleSort(int *vector, int tam) {
    int j, i;
    j = i = 0;
    for(i=0; i<tam; i++) {
		for(j=0; j<tam-i-1; j++) {
            g_swap = 0;
            if (vector[j] > vector[j+1]) {

Pre, Post conditions and thinking formally

So, as you can see in the video (or in the code) the algorithm is pretty much simple, we pick the i element cross the array n times and for each element we compare with i, this n times.

We have as pre conditions: The size of the vector must be greater than zero, and all the positions in that vector exists, so in Frama-C we use the valid\_range(vector, i, j), where i and j are indexes of the vector to say that all elements exist.

tam > 0


Ans as pos conditions we must ensure that the array is sorted ( I will talk predicate this later).
You may think that this by itself is enough to make a complete proof, but you are wrong. Image that my function clear all the elements in the array and fill the array with \{1,2,..,tam\}, our code will be proved and its wrong!

So, we need to say more… First thing that can pop to your head is OK, we will say that we have the same numbers in the beginning and in the end and you write this:
\forall_a : 0 \leq a < tam : (\exists_b : 0 \leq b < tam : old(vector(b)) \equiv vector(a))

In fact this is closer (not yet right), imagine that you give as input:
\{4,7,9,1,0,3,4\}. If your code returns \{0,1,3,4,7,9\} (we miss the repeated 4) the code will be proved.
So, the solution if to make a Permut predicate and prove for the multi set.
So, this are the post conditions:



Frama-C is so cool because for example at the pos condition if we want to refer to the state in the beginning (before call the function) we use Old and if we want to refer to the moment after the call we heave the Here keyword, remember we are at the post condition, so this wil be executed in the end (so Here means the end of the function call).


So, here is the Sorted predicate. Predicates receive a state L and the parameters (just like a function) and they return bool values (true or false). Inside we use regular ACSL notation. Here I define that for an array to be sorted each element must be less or equal to the next one.

/*@ predicate Sorted{L}(int a[], integer l, integer h) =
  @   \forall integer i; l <= i < h ==> a[i] <= a[i+1];

The Permut is defined inductively, so we receive two states L1 and L2 and the array a and the range where we want to permute.
We write multiple rules for the permutation, reflection, symmetry, transitivity and finally the most important one, the Swap. So basically here we say that a permutation is a set of successive swaps.

/*@ inductive Permut{L1,L2}(int a[], integer l, integer h) {
  @  case Permut_refl{L}:
  @   \forall int a[], integer l, h; Permut{L,L}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_sym{L1,L2}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h;
  @      Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) ==> Permut{L2,L1}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_trans{L1,L2,L3}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h;
  @      Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) && Permut{L2,L3}(a, l, h) ==>
  @        Permut{L1,L3}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_swap{L1,L2}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h, i, j;
  @       l <= i <= h && l <= j <= h && Swap{L1,L2}(a, i, j) ==>
  @     Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) ;
  @ }
  @ predicate Swap{L1,L2}(int a[], integer i, integer j) =
  @      \at(a[i],L1) == \at(a[j],L2)
  @   && \at(a[j],L1) == \at(a[i],L2)
  @   && \forall integer k; k != i && k != j ==> \at(a[k],L1) == \at(a[k],L2);

So, as you can see the bubble sort function itself have 18 lines of code, and in the end with the annotations for the proof we end with 90 lines, but we proved it!


My main point here is to show the thinking we need to have if we want to prove code in general. Pick what language you want, this is the easiest way you will have to prove software written in C. Sometimes if your functions are too complex you may need to prove it manually. The problem is not on the Frama-C side, Frama-C only generates the proof obligations to feed to automatic provers, like Yices, CVC3, Simplify, Z3, Alt-Ergo and so.

My point here is to show the cost of proving software. Proving software, specially if the language is too low level (like C – you need to care about a lot more things) is hard work and is not easy to a programmer without theoretical knowledge.
On the other side, you end up with a piece of software that is proved. Of course this proof is always requirements oriented, ny that I mean: if the requirements are wrong and the program is not doing what you expect the proof is along with that.
I do not stand to proof of all the code on the planet, but the proper utilization of FM (formal methods) tools for critical software.

I steel been using Frama-C since I learned it in 2009, nowadays I use it for small critical functions (because I want, I’m not encouraged to do so) and I have to say that the use of FM in the industry is far. As I told you Frama-C is the easiest automatic proof tool you will find at least that I know.

Talking with Marcelo Sousa about the use of FM in industry, we came to the conclusion that the people that are making this kind of tools and have the FM knowledge don’t make companies. I think if more brilliant people like John Launchbury make companies, definitely FM will be more used.

Source code

Here is all the code together if you want to test it:

// #include <stdio.h>

/*@ predicate Sorted{L}(int a[], integer l, integer h) =
  @   \forall integer i; l <= i < h ==> a[i] <= a[i+1];
  @ predicate Swap{L1,L2}(int a[], integer i, integer j) =
  @      \at(a[i],L1) == \at(a[j],L2)
  @   && \at(a[j],L1) == \at(a[i],L2)
  @   && \forall integer k; k != i && k != j ==> \at(a[k],L1) == \at(a[k],L2);

/*@ inductive Permut{L1,L2}(int a[], integer l, integer h) {
  @  case Permut_refl{L}:
  @   \forall int a[], integer l, h; Permut{L,L}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_sym{L1,L2}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h;
  @      Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) ==> Permut{L2,L1}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_trans{L1,L2,L3}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h;
  @      Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) && Permut{L2,L3}(a, l, h) ==>
  @        Permut{L1,L3}(a, l, h) ;
  @  case Permut_swap{L1,L2}:
  @    \forall int a[], integer l, h, i, j;
  @       l <= i <= h && l <= j <= h && Swap{L1,L2}(a, i, j) ==>
  @     Permut{L1,L2}(a, l, h) ;
  @ }

/*@ requires \valid(i) && \valid(j);
  @ //assigns *i, *j; //BUG 0000080: Assertion failed in
  @ ensures \at(*i,Old) == \at(*j,Here) && \at(*j,Old) == \at(*i,Here);
void swap(int *i, int *j) {
    int tmp = *i;
    *i = *j;
    *j = tmp;

/*@ requires tam > 0;
  @ requires \valid_range(vector,0,tam-1);
  @ ensures Sorted{Here}(vector, 0, tam-1);
  @ ensures Permut{Old,Here}(vector,0,tam-1);
void bubbleSort(int *vector, int tam) {
    int j, i;
    j = i = 0;
    //@ ghost int g_swap = 0;

  /*@ loop invariant 0 <= i < tam;
    @ loop invariant 0 <= g_swap <= 1;
    //last i+1 elements of sequence are sorted
    @ loop invariant Sorted{Here}(vector,tam-i-1,tam-1);
    //and are all greater or equal to the other elements of the sequence.
    @ loop invariant 0 < i < tam ==> \forall int a, b; 0 <= b <= tam-i-1 <= a < tam ==> vector[a] >= vector[b];
    @ loop invariant 0 < i < tam ==> Permut{Pre,Here}(vector,0,tam-1);
    @ loop variant tam-i;
    for(i=0; i<tam; i++) {
      //@ ghost g_swap = 0;
      /*@ loop invariant 0 <= j < tam-i;
        @ loop invariant 0 <= g_swap <= 1;
        //The jth+1 element of sequence is greater or equal to the first j+1 elements of sequence.
        @ loop invariant 0 < j < tam-i ==> \forall int a; 0 <= a <= j ==> vector[a] <= vector[j+1];
        @ loop invariant 0 < j < tam-i ==> (g_swap == 1) ==> Permut{Pre,Here}(vector,0,tam-1);
        @ loop variant tam-i-j-1;
		for(j=0; j<tam-i-1; j++) {
            g_swap = 0;
            if (vector[j] > vector[j+1]) {
                //@ ghost g_swap = 1;

/*@ requires \true;
  @ ensures \result == 0;
int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
    int i;
    int v[9] = {8,5,2,6,9,3,0,4,1};


//     for(i=0; i<9; i++)
//         printf("v[%d]=%d\n",i,v[i]);

    return 0;

If you are interested in the presentation me and pedro gave at our University, here it is:

Splint the static C code checker

3 05 2009

Splint is this great tool to statically analyze C code. Splint is an evolution of Lint. Lint makes analysis of C code and verifies unused declarations, type inconsistencies, use before definitions, unreachable code, ignored return values, execution path with no return and infinite loops. However, Lint was not a sufficiently powerful tool. Splint was created as a descendant of Lint allowing annotations in C code, so, it do more checks than its predecessor. In this post I will present some verifications that Splint does, and show the philosophy and how to use it. Splint allows annotations on functions, variables, parameters and types.

Undefined Variables

Splint detects instances where the value of a variable is used before it is defined. Anyway, many static analyzers can also do this, it is a very basic check. However, thanks to the splint annotations supports, they can be used to describe what storage must be defined and what storage must be undefined at interface points, this means that all storage reachable from a global variable, parameter to a function, or function return value is defined before and after the function call.

A special case of undefined variables is undefined function parameters. Sometimes we do a certain C function that return values, or change parameters values. The out annotation denotes a pointer to storage that may be undefined. Splint have a great storage model, so does not report an error when a pointer to allocated but undefined storage is passed as an out parameter. If in the body of a function an outparameter is allocated but not bounded to a value Splint reports an error. You can see out as an parameter that will be defined inside a function. The opposite happens to the in annotation, this can be used to denote a parameter that must be completely defined.
Here is a small example of it:

extern void setVal (/*@out@*/ int *x);
extern int getVal (/*@in@*/ int *x);
extern int mysteryVal(int *x);

int dumbfunc(/*@out@*/ int *x, int i) {
    if (i > 3)
11         return *x;
    else if (i > 1)
13         return getVal (x);
    else if (i == 0)
15         return mysteryVal (x);
    else {
18         setVal (x);
19         return *x;

And here it is the output of Splint:

> splint usedef.c
usedef.c:11: Value *x used before definition
usedef.c:13: Passed storage x not completely defined
    (*x is undefined): getVal (x)
usedef.c:15: Passed storage x not completely defined
    (*x is undefined): mysteryVal (x)
Finished checking --- 3 code warnings

As you can see, no error is reported for line 18, because the incomplete defined storage x is passed to a function that will define it, so we can return *x with no problems.


Strong type checking often reveals programming errors. Splint can check primitive C types more strictly and flexibly than typical compilers.

C, does not make types verification. Because for C all basic non numerical types are just int’s (Enum, Pointer, Char). Splint supports stricter checking of built-in C types. The char and enum types can be checked as distinct types, and the different numeric types can be type-checked strictly. Also the primitive char type can be type-checked as a distinct type. If char is used as a distinct type, common errors involving assigning ints to chars are detected.

In Splint, you can always turn off some default verifications, and Splint will assume the C compiler strategy to verify the code. If you run Splint with +charint is on, char types are indistinguishable from ints. So you can make cast’s from int to char or from cahr to int. But never forgot that this can lead to errors, as you can imagine if you do (char) 1000 you will not get an expected result because the characters only go up to 256.

Splint reports errors in the use of Enums, if a value that is not an enumerator member is assigned to the enum type or if an enum type is used as an operand to an arithmetic operator. Anyway you can turn this off, activating the enumint flag and then you can use enums and ints types interchangeably.

Memory Management

About half the bugs in typical C programs can be attributed to memory management problems.

Any C programmer who has already made a reasonable size program, has been confronted with unexpected errors related with memory management problems. This happens basically because C is a low level language so, does not have any system like Java’s garbage collector. All the memory management have to be done by the programmer, so errors may append. Some only appear sporadically, and some may only be apparent when compiled on a different platform. Splint is able to detect many memory management errors at compile time, like: using storage that may have been deallocated, memory leaks or returning a pointer to stack-allocated storage. This is possible because Splint makes a memory model when is working on the code, anyway I will not talk about this subject.

Splint can see and report deallocating storage when there are other live references to the same storage and failing to deallocate storage before the last reference to it is lost. The solution here is simple, Splint makes an obligation to release storage and attach this obligation to the reference to which the storage is assigned.

For references not shared Splint uses the only annotation to indicate that a reference is the only pointer to the object it points to, here we also use the null annotation to say that the output of malloc could be NULL:

/* @only@ */ /* @null@ */ void * malloc ( size_t size );

Here is a simple example of C annotated code with memory leaks and use after free variables:

1 extern /*@only@*/ int *glob;
/*@only@*/ int *f (/*@only@*/ int *x, int *y, int *z) /*@globals glob;@*/ {
8    int *m = (int *)
9    malloc (sizeof (int));
11   glob = y;   //Memory leak
12   free (x);
13   *m = *x;   //Use after free
14    return z;   //Memory leak detected

Here is the Splint output for the file above:

> splint only.c
only.c:11: Only storage glob (type int *) not released before assignment: glob = y
only.c:1: Storage glob becomes only
only.c:11: Implicitly temp storage y assigned to only: glob = y
only.c:13: Dereference of possibly null pointer m: *m
only.c:8: Storage m may become null
only.c:13: Variable x used after being released
only.c:12: Storage x released
only.c:14: Implicitly temp storage z returned as only: z
only.c:14: Fresh storage m not released before return
only.c:9: Fresh storage m allocated

Splint errors and warnings are very human readable, so you just have to read them to understand.
The first warning says that variable glob was not released (we say, in line 1, that it is only) before the assignment. In line 13 we have a dereference of possibly null pointer, because in line 12 we have done free to x variable, an now we want to use it’s value. As you can see, is very easy to understand the output of Splint.

Splint can also make verifications in stack based references. A memory error occurs if a pointer into stack is live after the function returns. Splint detects errors involving stack references exported from a function through return values or assignments to references reachable from global variables or actual parameters.
No annotations are needed to detect stack reference errors. It is clear from declarations if storage is allocated on the function stack.

Here is an example of stack-allocated storage:

int *glob;

int *f (int **x) {
    int sa[2] = { 0, 1 };
    int loc = 3;
9   glob = &loc;
10  *x = &sa[0];
12  return &loc;

And here is the Splint output:

> splint stack.c
stack.c:12: Stack-allocated storage &loc reachable from return value: &loc
stack.c:12: Stack-allocated storage *x reachable from parameter x
stack.c:10: Storage *x becomes stack
stack.c:12: Stack-allocated storage glob reachable from global glob
stack.c:9: Storage glob becomes stack

Control Flow

In order to avoid certain errors, Splint have to understand the control flow of the program, so Splint do some checks related to control flow. Many of these checks are possible because of the extra information that is known in annotations. Without this additional information Splint assumes that all functions return and execution continues normally.

noreturn annotation is used to denote a function that never returns.

extern /* @noreturn@ */ void fatalerror ( char *s);

We also have maynoreturn and alwaysreturns annotations, but Splint must assume that a function returns normally when checking the code and doesn’t verify if a function really returns.

To describe non-returning functions the noreturnwhentrue and noreturnwhenfalse mean that a function never returns if the first argument is true or false.

/* @noreturnwhenfalse@ */ void assert (/* @sef@ */ bool /* @alt int@ */ pred );

The sef annotation denotes a parameter as side effect free, and the alt int indicate that it may be either a Boolean or an integer.

Undefined Behavior

The order which side effect take place in C is not entirely defined by the code.

A sequence point is some point in the C code where it is guaranteed that all side effects of previous evaluations have been performed.
An example of sequence points is:

  • a function call (after the arguments have been evaluated)
  • at the end of a if, while, for or do statement
  • a &&, || and ?

Here is a simple C program that have undefined behavior.

extern int glob;
extern int mystery (void);
extern int modglob (void) /*@globals glob@*/ /*@modifies glob@*/;

int f (int x, int y[]) {
11    int i = x++ * x;
13    y[i] = i++;
14    i += modglob() * glob;
15    i += mystery() * glob;
16    return i;

And here is the Splint output:

> splint order.c
order.c:11: Expression has undefined behavior (value of right operand modified by left operand): x++ * x
order.c:13: Expression has undefined behavior (left operand uses i, modified by right operand): y[i] = i++
order.c:14: Expression has undefined behavior (value of right operand modified by left operand): modglob() * glob
order.c:15: Expression has undefined behavior (unconstrained function mystery used in left operand may set global variable glob used in right operand): mystery() * glob

Regard control flow, Splint has more options to check C code. I will not talk about all of them here.

Buffer Sizes

Buffer overflow errors are a particularly dangerous type of bug in C, they are responsible for half of all security attacks. This is happens because C does not perform runtime bound checking (for performance reasons), and so attackers can exploit program bugs to, for example, gain full access to a machine.

Splint models blocks of memory using two properties:
maxSet, maxSet(b) denotes the highest address beyond b that can be safely used as lvalue, for instance:

char buffer[MAXSIZE] we have maxSet(buffer) = MAXSIZE - 1

and maxRead, maxRead(b) denotes the highest index of a buffer that can be safely used as rvalue.

When a buffer is accessed as an lvalue, Splint generates a precondition constraint involving the maxSet property and when a buffer is accessed as an rvalue, Splint generates a precondition constraint involving the maxRead property.

We can use this two properties in buffer sizes annotations, this annotations uses the clause requires and ensures just like JML, VDM and Frama-C. When a function with requires clause is called, the call site must be checked to satisfy the constraints implied by requires.

Here is an example of its use:

void /* @alt char * @*/ strcpy
(/* @out@ */ /* @returned@ */ char *s1 , char *s2)
/* @modifies * s1@ */
/* @requires maxSet (s1) >= maxRead (s2) @*/
/* @ensures maxRead (s1) == maxRead (s2) @*/;

This is a possible annotation for strcpy standard library C function. We say that s1 is the return value of the function (returned), and that the pointer to s1 is the only one (only). We also say that this function modifies s1 and we specify the pre and post conditions.

Splint can also do bound checking. This is more complex than other checks done by Splint, so, memory bound warnings contain extensive information about the unresolved constraint as you can see in this example:

int buf [10];
buf [10] = 3;
setChar .c :5:4: Likely out -of - bounds store : buf [10]
Unable to resolve constraint : requires 9 >= 10
needed to satisfy precondition : requires maxSet ( buf @ setChar .c :5:4) >= 10

The ultimate test: wu-ftpd

wu-ftpd version 2.5.0 was about 20.000 lines of code and took less than four seconds to check all of wu-ftpd on a 1.2-GHz Athlon machine. Splint detected the known flaws as well as finding some previously unknown flaws (!)

One of the problems of these automatic static analysis tools is that it can produce false problems.
Running Splint on wu-ftpd without adding annotations produced 166 warnings for potential out-of-bounds writes. After adding 66 annotations, it produced 101 warnings: 25 of these indicated real problems and 76 were false.

Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight static analysis detects software vulnerabilities
  • Splint definitely improves code quality
  • Suitable for real programs…


  • …although it produces more warning messages that lead to confusion
  • It won’t eliminate all security risks
  • Hasn’t been developed since 2007, they need new volunteers


No tool will eliminate all security risks, lightweight static analysis tools (Splint) play an important role in identifying security vulnerabilities.

Here is the presentation about that subject:


All the examples provide here is from the Splint manual.

Capture and dissect network traffic

1 04 2009

Currently I am doing research at the University of Minho in the group of distributed systems, with duration of one year. My job is to find a way to identify specific links between a user and a distributed system. The general idea is to draw a map of services in a distributed system. This post only refers to the first milestone.

The proposal was to make such a system using Snort.


Snort is a Network intrusion detection system, that means with Snort you can detect malicious activity in your network. We can detect many types of network attacks. We can identify DoS, DDoS attacks, port scans, cracking attempts, and much more.

Snort can operate in two different ways. We can set up Snort to run in passive mode, putting it to listen in promiscuous mode. That is, because Ethernet network switches send traffic to all computers connected to itself, we get traffic addressed to other machines on the network. To do this we only need to connect to the network and turn Snort on in our machine, no one knows that we are recording every traffic (including traffic destined for other computers).

Snort may also run in active mode. This “active” is not able to modify the data channel, but to be able to be installed in a network, a router for example and reap more information than in passive mode. Thus it makes sense to use the capacity of rules that Snort supports, to filter the traffic that it read.

To do this, Snort capture all packets that pass the network and interprets each. As the rules we have defined Snort tries to find these patterns in each packet, or each set of packets and take certain actions for each of them.

For example, if a large number of TCP requests reach a particular host, to a large number of ports in a short space of time we probably are the target of a port scan. NIDS like Snort know how to find these patterns and alerting the network administrator.


Our aim was to use Snort to capture all traffic into passive mode.

root@pig:# snort -u snort -g snort -D -d -l /var/log/snort -c /etcsnort/snort.debian.conf -i eth0

We are saving the logs in binary (tcpdump format), for that I use the “-d -l /dir/” flags. I prefer to save all the packets into binary because is more easier to parse, than the structure of files and directories that Snort creates by default.

I started by trying to use some language that advised me to try to do the parsing of the file created by snort. Initially started to use python, but only find a tcpdump parser and could not get more than one file translated in tcpdump to hexadecimal.
After that I tried to use Haskell and I was amazed!

Haskell and packet parsing

House is a Haskell Operative System done by The Programatica Project.

This is a system than can serve as a platform for exploring various ideas relating to low-level and system-level programming in a high-level functional language.

And indeed helped me a lot in doing my job. This project have already done a lot of parsers for network packets. It implements the Ethernet, IPv4, IPv6, TCP, UDP, ICMP, ARP and I think is all.

The libpcap (tcpdump parser) is already implemented in Haskell too, so is very simple to parse a complete packet:

getPacket :: [Word8] -> InPacket
getPacket bytes =  toInPack $ listArray (0,Prelude.length bytes-1) $ bytes

-- Ethernet | IP | TCP | X
getPacketTCP :: [Word8] -> Maybe (NE.Packet (NI4.Packet (NT.Packet InPacket)))
getPacketTCP bytes = doParse $ getPacket bytes :: Maybe (NE.Packet (NI4.Packet (NT.Packet InPacket)))

As you can see is too easy to have a compete structure of a packet parsed with this libraries. The problem is that they don’t have already implemented a application packet parser. So, according to that image:

This is the level of depth we can go with this libraries. What is very good, but not perfect for me :S

My supervisor told me to start searching a new tool to do this job. I was sad because I could not do everything in Haskell. But it is already promised that I will continue this project in Haskell. You can see the git repo here.

I find tshark, a great tool to dissect and analyze data inside tcpdump files.

The power of tshark

tshark is the terminal based Wireshark, with it we can do everything we do with wireshark.

Show all communications with the IP

root@pig:# tshark -R "ip.addr ==" -r snort.log
7750 6079.816123 -> SSHv2 Client: Key Exchange Init
7751 6079.816151 -> TCP ssh > 51919 [ACK] Seq=37 Ack=825 Win=7424 Len=0 TSV=131877388 TSER=1789588
7752 6079.816528 -> SSHv2 Server: Key Exchange Init
7753 6079.817450 -> TCP 51919 > ssh [ACK] Seq=825 Ack=741 Win=7264 Len=0 TSV=1789588 TSER=131877389
7754 6079.817649 -> SSHv2 Client: Diffie-Hellman GEX Request
7755 6079.820784 -> SSHv2 Server: Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange Reply
7756 6079.829495 -> SSHv2 Client: Diffie-Hellman GEX Init
7757 6079.857490 -> SSHv2 Server: Diffie-Hellman GEX Reply
7758 6079.884000 -> SSHv2 Client: New Keys
7759 6079.922576 -> TCP ssh > 51919 [ACK] Seq=1613 Ack=1009 Win=8960 Len=0 TSV=131877415 TSER=1789605

Show with a triple: (time, code http, http content size), separated by ‘,’ and between quotation marks.

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -R http.response -T fields -E header=y -E separator=',' -E quote=d -e frame.time_relative -e http.response.code -e http.content_length

Show a tuple of arity 4 with: (time, source ip, destination ip, tcp packet size).

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -R "tcp.len>0" -T fields -e frame.time_relative -e ip.src -e ip.dst -e tcp.len
551.751252000  48
551.751377000   144
551.961545000  48
551.961715000   208
552.682260000  48
552.683955000   1448
552.683961000   1448
552.683967000   512
555.156301000  48
555.158474000   1448
555.158481000   1400
556.021205000  48
556.021405000   160
558.874202000  48
558.876027000   1448

Show with a triple: (source ip, destination ip, port of destination ip).

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -Tfields  -e ip.src -e ip.dst -e tcp.dstport
...   37602   37602  22   37602  22  22   37602   37602   37602  22  22  22  22   37602   37602


Hierarchy of protocols

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -q -z io,phs
frame                                    frames:7780 bytes:1111485
  eth                                    frames:7780 bytes:1111485
    ip                                   frames:3992 bytes:848025
      tcp                                frames:3908 bytes:830990
        ssh                              frames:2153 bytes:456686
        http                             frames:55 bytes:19029
          http                           frames:5 bytes:3559
            http                         frames:3 bytes:2781
              http                       frames:2 bytes:2234
                http                     frames:2 bytes:2234
          data-text-lines                frames:10 bytes:5356
        tcp.segments                     frames:3 bytes:1117
          http                           frames:3 bytes:1117
            media                        frames:3 bytes:1117
      udp                                frames:84 bytes:17035
        nbdgm                            frames:50 bytes:12525
          smb                            frames:50 bytes:12525
            mailslot                     frames:50 bytes:12525
              browser                    frames:50 bytes:12525
        dns                              frames:34 bytes:4510
    llc                                  frames:3142 bytes:224934
      stp                                frames:3040 bytes:182400
      cdp                                frames:102 bytes:42534
    loop                                 frames:608 bytes:36480
      data                               frames:608 bytes:36480
    arp                                  frames:38 bytes:2046


We use: -z conv,TYPE,FILTER

TYPE could be:

  • eth,
  • tr,
  • fc,
  • fddi,
  • ip,
  • ipx,
  • tcp,
  • udp

And the filters are used to restrict the statistics.

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -q -z conv,ip,tcp.port==80
IPv4 Conversations
                                |           | |    Total    |
                                |Frames Bytes | |Frames Bytes | |Frames Bytes | 141    13091    202   259651    343   272742     22     6858     28     4784     50    11642


We use: -z io,stat,INT,FILTER,…,FILTER

root@pig:# tshark -r snort.log -q -z io,stat,300,'not (tcp.port=22)'
IO Statistics
Interval: 300.000 secs
Column #0:
                |   Column #0
Time            |frames|  bytes
000.000-300.000    2161    543979
300.000-600.000    1671    264877
600.000-900.000     508     46224
900.000-1200.000     185     12885
1200.000-1500.000     201     14607
1500.000-1800.000     187     13386
1800.000-2100.000     189     13887
2100.000-2400.000     187     13386
2400.000-2700.000     189     13887
2700.000-3000.000     187     13386
3000.000-3300.000     185     12885
3300.000-3600.000     189     13887
3600.000-3900.000     210     15546
3900.000-4200.000     189     13887
4200.000-4500.000     187     13386
4500.000-4800.000     185     12885
4800.000-5100.000     189     13887


With tshark we could do everything we want to know what is inside a network packet. The trick is to understand the statistics that tshark generate, and know how to ask it.

Now my work will get a machine to run Snort in an active mode and begin to understand how to use Snort to do all this work of collecting information.

If you feel interested and understand Portuguese, see the presentation:

Cryptol the language of cryptography

1 04 2009

Pedro Pereira and I are working on a new project in the Masters. The second half of the Masters is composed of a single project suggested by a company. Some companies are forming partnerships in the Masters formal methods, including: the Critical software, SIG and Galois. We chose the Galois because we also are in the area of cryptography and we already knew some work of some people from this company.

The project suggested by Galois was study the Cryptol as a language of specification of cryptographic algorithms. The cipher we used for this study is the SNOW 3G (The SNOW website), later on I will talk about the specification of this cipher. In this post I am only interested to show the language.

I’m going to show you some details about the language. This post is not intend to be a exhaustive explanation of Cryptol, if you looking for that you can go directly to the manuals. This post only relates my experience, and what I like it most with the language.


Cryptol is a high-level language that is geared to deal with low-level problems. Is a Domain-specific language to design and implement cryptographic algorithms.
This language has a high percentage of correctness of the implementation of a cipher, because it implements type inference, so we can say that a big part of the language implements correctness. This correctness is also achieved thanks to the architecture of the language – functional. We don’t have side effects – a function only return something inside is codomain.
In Cryptol we have this philosophy that says that everything is a sequence. This is very useful because we are working with low level data (array of bits), so we use sequences to represent that arrays. We can have nested sequences to have a more structured representation of data. For example, we can simply transform a 32-bit sequence in a 4 1-byte sequence.
The size of this sequences could be implemented as finite or infinite, as we going to see later in this post. Because Cryptol is a high-level language we can also implement polymorphic functions, most of the primitive functions are implemented in polymorphic mode. The way we have to navigate throw the sequences is using recursion, or sequences comprehension, and with these two techniques we can implement recurrences.

If you are a Haskell programmer you just need the next section to learn Cryptol. This language is so look a like with Haskell that even the philosophy seems to have a lot in commune.

Types in Cryptol

The type [32] means that you have a sequence of 32-bit size. All the types in Cryptol are size oriented. The unit is the Bit, that you can use to represent Bool. To represent a infinite sequence we use the reserved word inf, and we write: [inf] to represent that.

If you want to generate a infinite sequence, we use the syntactic sugar of the sequences like that: [1~..]. Cryptol will infer this sequence as type


That means this sequence have infinite positions of 1-bit words. The type inference mechanism will always optimize the size that he needs, to represent the information.
So, it infer the type of [100~..] as:


Because, it “knows” that needs only 7-bits to represent the decimal 100. But if you need more, you can force the type of your function.
We implement polymorphism in our types, if we have:


This means, that the function f have polymorphism over b, because we say that it domain is one sequence of size a of type b, and it codomain also. Here we could also see: f~:~[a][b]c meaning that f is a constant of sequences of size b of type c, a times.

So, lets talk about some primitive functions in Cryptol, and its types. The tail function have the following type in Cryptol:


As we can see, Cryptol is so size oriented, that we can use arithmetic operators in types. We can probably infer what this function does just from it type: tail works for all a and b such that if we have one sequence os size a+1 of type b it returns one sequence of size a of same type. In fact this function removes the first element of one sequence.

Because of this size oriented philosophy a lot of functions, that change the size of the sequences can be read just from the type.

As you can see in the following list of Cryptol primitive function:

drop~:~\{ a~b~c \}~( fin~a ,~a~\geq~0)~\Rightarrow~(a ,[ a + b ]~c )~\rightarrow~[ b ]~c
take~:~\{ a~b~c \}~( fin~a ,~b~\geq~0)~\Rightarrow~(a ,[ a + b ]~c )~\rightarrow~[ a ]~c
join~:~\{ a~b~c \}~[ a ][ b ] c~\rightarrow~[ a * b ]~c
split~:~\{ a~b~c \}~[ a * b ] c~\rightarrow~[ a ][ b ]~c
tail~:~\{ a~b \}~[ a +1] b~\rightarrow~[ a ]~b

Recursion and Recurrence

Cryptol implements Recursion, just like a lot of functional languages do.

Imagine the fibonacci function definition:

It implementation in Crytol is exactly the same as defined mathematically.

fib : [inf]32 -> [inf]32;
fib n = if n == 0 then 0 else if n == 1 then 1 else fib (n-1) + fib (n-2);

Cryptol uses recursion to permit us to iterate throw sequences.

But, If you prefer you can implement a more functional algorithm of fibonacci function in Cryptol:

fib : [inf]32 -> [inf]32;
fib n = fibs @ n;
   where {
      fibs : [inf]32;
      fibs = [0 1] # [| x + y || x <- drop (1,fibs) || y <- fibs |];

Here, as you can see, we define a infinite list fibs of all the fibonacci numbers, by calling the fibs inside the sequences comprehension fibs, this is called a recurrence, and you can use that too in Cryptol.

Cryptol vs C

I’m going to show you some part of the implementation of SNOW 3G in C. This is a function called MUL_{\alpha}

MULa : [8] -> [32];
MULa(c) = join ( reverse [
   ( MULxPOW(c, 23 :[32], 0xA9) )
   ( MULxPOW(c, 245:[32], 0xA9) )
   ( MULxPOW(c, 48 :[32], 0xA9) )
   ( MULxPOW(c, 239:[32], 0xA9) ) ] );
/* The function MUL alpha.
    Input c: 8-bit input.
    Output : 32-bit output.
    See section 3.4.2 for details.
u32 MULalpha(u8 c) {
  ((((u32)MULxPOW(c,23, 0xa9)) << 24 ) |
  (((u32)MULxPOW(c, 245,0xa9)) << 16 ) |
  (((u32)MULxPOW(c, 48,0xa9)) << 8 ) |
  (((u32)MULxPOW(c, 239,0xa9)))) ;

You can see that in Cryptol we just say that we want to work with a 32-bit word, and we don’t need to do any shift to our parts of the word. We just join them together. We reverse the sequence, because Cryptol stores words in little-endian, and we want to keep the definition like the specification.

This is a very simple function, so the result in C is not so that different. But if we have a more complex function, we were going to start having a nightmare to write that in C.


Well, the conclusion is that Cryptol is a language that really help to write low-level algorithms. With Cryptol the specification is formal and easier to read than other languages. A value of Cryptol is that the code can be converted to other languages, such as VHDL and C.

If you’re interested, take a look at the presentation that we did.


Catamorphisms in Haskell

19 12 2007

Lately I have had many works to do at university, therefore I’m sorry for the non regularity of my post’s.
By the way, I also liked to announce that this is my first conscientious post at Planet Haskell.

Why Catamorphisms and Point-Free

Catamorphisms is the way that we can explain in one function how recursive patterns works in some data type.
Here I will use Point-Free notation because what matters here is to show the data flow and the composition of functions.
Point-Free style is used to think in data flow terms, and very useful to program verification, applying formalism to our code.

In point-free style of programming programs are expressed as combinations of simpler functions. This notation is known as write functions without their arguments. Pointwise is the normal form how we write a function.

Couple of examples of point-free notation:

sum = foldr (+) 0 -- point-free
sum l = foldr (+) 0 l -- pointwise


f = (*10).(+2) -- point-free
f n = (n+2)*10 -- pointwise


First of all to define a function, for example f, I say:


I will assume that you are familiarized with infix notation, const, either, uncurry and composition \circ function.


In Haskell we have this definition for lists:

data [a] = [] | a : [a]

Let’s create the same, but more convenient. Consider the following isomorphic type for lists:

data List a = Empty | Node(a,List a) deriving Show

To represent [1,2,3] we wrote Node(1,Node(2,Node(3,Empty))).

As you can see, to construct a (List a) we have two options, Empty or Node. Formally we represent the constructor Empty as 1. And we use (+) to say that our two possibilities are 1 or Node. We could see Node as a the following function:

Node :: (a,List a) -> List a

So typologically we have 1 + (a,List~a). We use (\times) to define that two things occurs in parallel, like tuples do, so we can redefine it: 1 + (a \times~List~a)

Now we can say that (List~a) is isomorphic to (1 + a \times~List~a).
This is something to say that (List~a) and (1 + a \times~List~a) keep the same information without any change or any loss.

Catamorphisms as composition of functions

Let A, B, C, D be Inductive data types (sets) and out, cata, rec functions.

We will write cata(g)_{List} using the composition of out, cata, rec functions. That way we are breaking our problem in small ones. So, in the end we will have the following definition for cata(g)_{List}:

cata(g)_{List} = g \circ rec_{List} \circ out_{List}

The function that we want is cata(g), and that function is over (List~a) so we have:

cata :: (D -> C) -> List a -> C

Type A is (List~a). Maybe this isn’t clear yet, let’s start with function out


The function outList is responsible to create the isomorphism between (1 + a \times~List~a) and (List~a), so the code could be something like this:

outList :: List a -> Either () (a,List a)
outList Empty    = Left ()
outList (Node t) = Right t

In Haskell we represent the type 1 as (), (+) as Either and (\times) as (,).

So, type B is (1 + a \times~List~a).

function g

The function g is also known as *gen*, here is where we said the step that pattern do. Imagine that we want to insert all the values of (List~a) into [a]:

-- pointwise
g :: Either () (a,[a]) -> [a]
g (Left()) = []
g (Right(a,h)) = a:h

-- pointfree
g = either (const []) (uncurry (:))

We represent cata(g) as (| g |).
Now we can be more specific with our graphic:


Here we have to get a function rec that transform 1 + (a \times~List~a) into 1 + (a \times~[a]). That function, general rec, will be:

recg f g h = f -|- (g ><  g) x = ((f . fst) x , (g . snd) x)

With that function we can say exactly what to do with type 1, a, and List~a in domain of rec.
So we want something like this:

rec g = recG id id g

like that we said that (1 + (a \times~\_)) will be the same in the counter domain (1 + (a \times~\_)) of rec. Now we need a function that receive a List~a and give us a [a]
Yes, that function is (| g |)! So, the final graphic became:


Finally we gonna to define the function cata(g):

cata g = outList . rec (cata g) . g

where g is our *gen* function,

g = either (const []) (uncurry (:))

And our objective:

List2HaskellList = cata $ either (const []) (uncurry (:))

More catamorphisms

Imagine we have the following data type:

data NList a where
    Leaf  :: a -> NList a
    NNode :: a -> [NList a] -> NList a

out, rec, and cata became:

out (Leaf a) = Left a
out (NNode a l) = Right (a,l)

Using the previous definitions of (-|-) and (><)

rec f = id -|- (id >< map f)
cata g = g . rec (cata g) . out

Imagging that g has type:

g :: Either a (a,[[a]]) -> [a]

And the graphic for this cata became:


I’ve talked about cata’s without any formalism, the idea was to explain to someone who didn’t know.

I will talk more about catamorphisms and how to calculate programs with them.
In the future I will like to talk about anamorphisms too. And Later on I will talk about point-free over non recursive functions.