Friday, May 02, 2014

Wireshark, GeoIP and Checking Up on Mobile/Home Carriers

As enterprises move an ever-growing list of services into the mobile space, it becomes essential to understand the limitations of the mobile network infrastructure.  No longer can we perform true end-to-end capture or analysis of network data; what was the "last mile" is now an indeterminate path through any number of relatively impenetrable mobile networks.  In this respect, troubleshooting issues involving mobile devices can be quite the challenge. At the same time, we're dealing with an increasing number of telecommuters, those "work from home" people who are at the mercy of their ISP.  What, then, is the enterprise network analyst to do?

The answer (or, at least, a good start toward an answer) lies in geolocation - the association of IP address spaces with their geographic and/or corporate assignments. Geolocation can be been integrated with DNS (or, at least, BIND implementations of DNS), the Apache web server, and any number of other applications, including (as of version 1.1.2) our favorite network tool - Wireshark. The marraige of Wireshark's analysis and GeoIP's provider identification produces some powerful analysis capabilities.

You can download free GeoLite versions of current GeoIP databases from MaxMind.  MaxMind provides free GeoLite databases for IPv4 and IPv6 city, country and autonomous system numbers (ASNs); you'll want to download the binary versions, not the CSV editions.  The MaxMind databases are updated on a monthly basis; if you like the results of this exercise, you'll need to set up a process to handle monthly updates.

Now it's time to make Wireshark GeoIP-aware:

1) Once you've downloaded the GeoIP databases, unzip them to a permanent home. On my Linux systems, I created the /usr/local/geoip directory for this purpose; on Windows systems, I use a \geoip subdirectory under the Wireshark installation directory.  The databases can be (and should be) read-only; you won't be adding any data. Now, we're ready to pull them into Wireshark.

2) Open Edit->Preferences in Wireshark, select Name Resolution, and click the "Edit" button next to GeoIP database directories; click New in the resulting dialog and add the directory you created in step 1. Using my Linux example above, you should have something like this (click to enlarge):
3) Close Wireshark and reopen.  You're ready to go!

So, what exactly does this give you? Well, to start with, you'll find that Wireshark's Statistics->Endpoints includes sortable columns for City, Country and AS Number, like so (click to enlarge):
You'll also find GeoIP information in the Details pane of the packet view, under Internet Protocol:
Finally, you can now use GeoIP information in your Wireshark display filters. For instance, I'll take the ASN definition from the previous example (British Sky Broadcasting) and use it in a display filter to show me ALL traffic from that provider:
ip.geoip.src_asnum == "AS5607 British Sky Broadcasting Limited"
Other GeoIP display filters allow you to select/view traffic based on country (e.g."Egypt"), city (e.g. ip.geoip.src_city == "Birmingham, AL") or even longitude or latitude (e.g. ip.geoip.src_lat == 33.520699).

From here, you can isolate, analyze and/or export data for specific providers, whether they serve mobile or home users; you could even develop "country profiles" if you're serving an international clientele.  While the GeoIP data isn't perfect, it's more than adequate to help you create a profile of your mobile userbase.

Have fun!
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