Detecting Rogue DHCP Servers with PyDHCPDiscover

It’s been awhile since I’ve released or updated a tool, so I present to you PyDHCPDiscover!

PyDHCPDiscover is a Python script that can send out DHCP requests, and parse the responses from the servers. It will not actually accept these offers, but the tool can detect what IPs the servers are offering up etc.

In this post, I will show how the script can detect rogue DHCP servers on your network.

To start, I will setup dnsmasq as a rogue DHCP server on my network.

root@kali:~# cat /etc/dnsmasq.conf 
root@kali:~# dnsmasq -k

Once that was running, it was time to go over my script.

I based the original code for this on, but I made some modifications, additions, and proper support for DHCP options.

Once I sent out a DHCP request, I needed to parse the offer.

You can find the current code for PyDHCPDiscover below.

import socket
import struct
from uuid import getnode as get_mac
from random import randint

# Based on

def strToIP(input):
    return '.'.join(str(int(x.encode('hex'), 16)) for x in input)

def getMacString():
    mac = str(hex(get_mac())[2:])
    while (len(mac) < 12):
        mac = '0' + mac
    macB = ''
    for i in range(0, 12, 2) :
        m = int(mac[i:i + 2], 16)
        macB += struct.pack('!B', m)
    return macB

def genTransactionID():
    transactionID = ''
    for i in range(4):
        t = randint(0, 255)
        transactionID += struct.pack('!B', t)
    return transactionID

def buildDiscoverPacket(transactionID):
    packet = b''
    # Message type: Boot Request (1)
    packet += b'\x01'
    # Hardware type: Ethernet
    packet += b'\x01'
    # Hardware address length: 6
    packet += b'\x06'
    # Hops: 0
    packet += b'\x00'
    # Transaction ID
    packet += transactionID
    # Seconds elapsed: 0
    packet += b'\x00\x00'
    # Bootp flags: 0x8000 (Broadcast) + reserved flags
    packet += b'\x80\x00'
    # Client IP address:
    packet += b'\x00\x00\x00\x00'
    # Your (client) IP address:
    packet += b'\x00\x00\x00\x00'
    # Next server IP address:
    packet += b'\x00\x00\x00\x00'
    # Relay agent IP address:
    packet += b'\x00\x00\x00\x00'
    # Client MAC address
    packet += getMacString()
    # Client hardware address padding: 00000000000000000000
    packet += b'\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00'
    # Server host name not given
    packet += b'\x00' * 67
    # Boot file name not given
    packet += b'\x00' * 125
    # Magic cookie: DHCP
    packet += '\x63\x82\x53\x63'
    # Option: (t=53,l=1) DHCP Message Type = DHCP Discover
    packet += b'\x35\x01\x01'
    # Option: (t=61,l=6) Client MAC
    packet += b'\x3d\x06' + getMacString()
    # Option: (t=55,l=3) Parameter Request List
    packet += b'\x37\x03\x03\x01\x06'
    # End Option
    packet += b'\xff'
    return packet

def getOption(key, value):

    optName = 'Option not found'
    optValue = 'N/A'

    if key is 1:
        optName = 'Subnet Mask'
        optValue = strToIP(value)
    elif key is 3:
        optName = 'Available Router'
        optValue = strToIP(value)
    elif key is 6:
        optName = 'Domain Name Server(s)'
        optValue = strToIP(value)
    elif key is 28:
        optName = 'Broadcast Address'
        optValue = strToIP(value)
    elif key is 51:
        optName = 'IP address Lease Time'
        optValue = str(struct.unpack('!L', value)[0])
    elif key is 53:
        optName = 'DHCP Message Type'
        if ord(value) is 1:
            optValue = 'DHCP Discover message (DHCPDiscover)'
        elif ord(value) is 2:
            optValue = 'DHCP Offer message (DHCPOffer)'
        elif ord(value) is 3:
            optValue = 'DHCP Request message (DHCPRequest)'
        elif ord(value) is 4:
            optValue = 'DHCP Decline message (DHCPDecline)'
        elif ord(value) is 5:
            optValue = 'DHCP Acknowledgment message (DHCPAck)'
        elif ord(value) is 6:
            optValue = 'DHCP Negative Acknowledgment message (DHCPNak)'
            optValue = 'Message type not supported'
    elif key is 54:
        optName = 'Server Identifier'
        optValue = strToIP(value)
    elif key is 58:
        optName = 'Renewal (T1) Time Value'
        optValue = str(struct.unpack('!L', value)[0])
    elif key is 59:
        optName = 'Rebinding (T2) Time Value'
        optValue = str(struct.unpack('!L', value)[0])
    return [optName, optValue]

def unpackOfferPacket(data, transactionID):

    #print ':'.join(x.encode('hex') for x in data)
    if (data[4:8] == transactionID):
        print '\nDHCP SERVER FOUND!\n-------------------'
        offerIP = strToIP(data[16:20])
        nextServerIP = strToIP(data[20:24])
        dhcpOptions = data[240:]
        optionsDict = {}
        optionsOut = []
        toPrint = {}
        nextOption = dhcpOptions[0]
        while ord(nextOption) is not 255:
            optionKey = ord(nextOption)
            optionLen = ord(dhcpOptions[1])
            optionVal = dhcpOptions[2:2+optionLen]
            optionsDict[optionKey] = optionVal
            dhcpOptions = dhcpOptions[2+optionLen:]
            nextOption = dhcpOptions[0]

        for key in optionsDict:
            optionsOut.append(getOption(key, optionsDict[key]))

        #print optionsOut

        # Current iteration may not properly support more than one DNS server
        DNS = []
        dnsNB = ord(data[268])/4
        for i in range(0, 4 * dnsNB, 4):
            DNS.append(strToIP(data[269 + i :269 + i + 4]))
        print('{0:20s}'.format('DNS Servers') + ' : ')
        if DNS:
            print('     {0:15s}'.format(DNS[0]))
        if len(DNS) > 1:
            for i in range(1, len(DNS)): 
                print('     {0:22s} {1:15s}'.format(' ', DNS[i]))
        for i in range(len(optionsOut)):
            print '{0:25s} : {1:15s}'.format(optionsOut[i][0], optionsOut[i][1])

        print '{0:25s} : {1:15s}'.format('Offered IP Address', offerIP)
        print '{0:25s} : {1:15s}'.format('Gateway IP Address', nextServerIP)
        print ''

dhcpSrv = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_DGRAM)
dhcpSrv.setsockopt(socket.SOL_SOCKET, socket.SO_BROADCAST, 1)
dhcpSrv.setsockopt(socket.SOL_SOCKET, socket.SO_REUSEADDR, 1)

    dhcpSrv.bind(('', 68))
except Exception as ex:
    print 'There was an exception with the bind: ' + str(ex)

transactionID = genTransactionID()

dhcpSrv.sendto(buildDiscoverPacket(transactionID), ('<broadcast>', 67))

print '\nDHCP Discover sent, waiting for reply\n'

    while (1):
        data = dhcpSrv.recv(2048)
        #print str(data)
        unpackOfferPacket(data, transactionID)
except Exception as ex:
    if 'timed out' not in ex:
        print 'There was an exception with the offer: ' + str(ex)


After I had my dnsmasq running, I ran the tool, and it discovered two DHCP servers! The being my router, and the other being dnsmasq running on Kali. Additionally, you can see that it parses out all the options and displays them as well.

PyDHCPDiscover - Caught

While this is definitely a more blue-team oriented tool, I could also see it being used to make sure that no drop boxes or other malicious devices are still running or trying to give out DHCP address.

Some of my next steps will be to add more DHCP options, sort the output so that it is a bit more useful, and maybe looking into sending/responding to other DHCP requests.

Finally, you can find the code and updates in my GitHub repository.

doyler on Githubdoyler on Twitter
Ray Doyle is an avid pentester/security enthusiast/beer connoisseur who has worked in IT for almost 16 years now. From building machines and the software on them, to breaking into them and tearing it all down; he's done it all. To show for it, he has obtained an OSCP, eCPPT, eWPT, eWPTX, eMAPT, Security+, ICAgile CP, ITIL v3 Foundation, and even a sabermetrics certification!

He currently serves as a Senior Penetration Testing Consultant for Secureworks. His previous position was a Senior Penetration Tester for a major financial institution.

When he's not figuring out what cert to get next (currently GXPN) or side project to work on, he enjoys playing video games, traveling, and watching sports.


Filed under Security Not Included

7 Responses to Detecting Rogue DHCP Servers with PyDHCPDiscover

  1. This comment came in on someone else’s GitHub page (sorry Fluxion >_< )

    “Hello Doyler, I was checking out your pyDHCPDiscover script and wanted to leave you a message on your page but I’m getting a ‘ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin: GD image support not detected in PHP!’ message and so I can’t submit any comments.
    I’m fairly new to python but wanted to learn more through your script but when I run it I get an error message:
    transactionID += struct.pack(‘!B’, t)
    TypeError: must be str, not bytes

    I was wondering if you could give a newb some pointers on how to get around the error. Thanks”

    • Hi usagijim,

      Sorry that my comments weren’t working, but thanks for letting me know! They should be fixed now.

      First of all, are you using Python 2.7 or Python 3? It could be an issue in Python 3, since I may have only tested that code in 2.7.

      If you are definitely using 2.7, then it may be an issue with your “t” value. Can you print t and show me the output?


      • Hi usagijim here,
        Thanks for the response! Yes I am using Py3. Foolish me I changed all of the print ” lines to print (”) and hoped it would work. If you were planning on testing the code for Py3 I’d love to know what you find. Meanwhile back to my udemy courses 🙂

      • Jim

        Thanks Doyler, I am using Py3 which I guess explains the error. Pretty sure this is beyond my ability to learn through but I’ll try follow the logic of the script regardless. If you end up ever revisiting your script for Py3 I’d be grateful if you post any updates for it.

        • Glad you managed to find your way here after I fixed the comments!

          First, I highly recommend using Python 2.7 for this script (and any others designed for it), as you will normally run into issues.

          As far as the py3 issue is concerned, this is because the struct.pack() calls are returning a byte array as opposed to a string. You could either convert this to a string, or initialize the variables (mac, transactionID, etc.) as bytes() instead of an empty string.

          That said, this would be a lot of changes for the script, and it might just be easier to work with in Python 2.7!

          • jim

            I think you might still have some weirdness with the comments. I responded back in the afternoon yesterday but when I took a look later in the evening my comment didn’t appear so I re-commented and now I’m showing both lol.

            Really appreciate the advice on the script will check out 2.7.

            Have a great xmas!

          • Nah, no issues with comments, I just have to manually approve them to prevent spam haha.

            Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

            You too!

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