cntlm - authenticating HTTP(S) proxy with TCP/IP tunneling and acceleration
cntlm [ -AaBcDdFfgHhILlMPprSsTUuvw ] [ host1 port1 | host1:port1 ] ... hostN portN
Cntlm is an NTLM/NTLMv2 authenticating HTTP proxy. It takes the address of your proxy or proxies (host1..N and port1..N) and opens a listening socket, forwarding each request to the parent proxy (moving in a circular list if the active parent stops working). Along the way, a connection to the parent is created anew and authenticated or, if available, previously cached connection is reused to achieve higher efficiency and faster responses. When the chain is set up, cntlm should be used as a proxy in your applications. Cntlm also integrates transparent TCP/IP port forwarding (tunneling) through the parent (incl. authentication). Each tunnel opens a new listening socket on the defined local port and forwards all connections to the given host:port behind the secondary proxy. Manual page explains how to setup cntlm properly using configuration file or command-line arguments.
Cntlm works similarly to NTLMAPS, plus full NTLM support, a bucket of new features and none of its shortcomings and inefficiencies. It adds support for real keep-alive (on both sides) and it caches all authenticated connections for reuse in subsequent requests. It can be restarted without TIME_WAIT delay, uses just a fraction of memory compared to NTLMAPS and by orders of magnitude less CPU. Each thread is completely independent and one cannot block another. Cntlm has many security/privacy features like NTLMv2 support and password protection - it is possible to substitute password hashes (which can be obtained using -H) for the actual password or to enter the password interactively. If plaintext password is used, it is automatically hashed during the startup and all its traces are removed from the process memory.
In addition to lower usage of system resources, cntlm achieves higher throughput on a given link. By caching authenticated connections, it acts as an HTTP accelerator; This way, the 5-way auth handshake for each connection is transparently eliminated, providing direct access most of the time. NTLMAPS doesn't authenticate in parallel with the request - instead, it first connects, sends a probe and disconnects. No sooner than that it connects again and initiates NTLM handshake. Cntlm also doesn't read the whole request including HTTP body into memory, in fact, no traffic is generated except for the exchange of headers until the client <-> server connection is fully negotiated. Only then are the request and response bodies forwarded, directly between client and server sockets. This way, cntlm avoids most of the TCP/IP overhead of similar proxies. Along with the fact that cntlm is written in optimized C, it achieves up to fifteen times faster responses. The slower the line, the more impact cntlm has on download speeds.
An example of cntlm compared to NTLMAPS under the same conditions: cntlm gave avg 76 kB/s with peak CPU usage of 0.3% whereas with NTLMAPS it was avg 48 kB/s with peak CPU at 98% (Pentium M 1.8 GHz). The extreme difference in resource usage is one of many important benefits for laptop use. Peak memory consumption (several complex sites, 50 paralell connections/threads; values are in KiB):
VSZ RSS CMD 3204 1436 ./cntlm -f -c ./cntlm.conf -P pid 411604 6264 /usr/share/ntlmaps/main.py -c /etc/ntlmaps/server.cfg
Inherent part of the development is profiling and memory management screening using Valgrind. The source distribution contains a file called valgrind.txt, where you can see the report confirming zero leaks, no access to unallocated memory, no usage of uninitialized data - all tracked down to each CPU instruction emulated in Valgrind's virtual CPU during a typical production lifetime of the proxy.
Most options can be pre-set in a configuration file. Specifying an option more than once is not an error, but cntlm ignores all occurences except the last one. This does not apply to options like -L, each of which creates a new instance of some feature. Cntlm can be built with a hardcoded configuration file (e.g. /etc/cntlm.conf), which is always loaded, if possible. See -c option on how to override some or all of its settings.
Use -h to see available options with short description.
- -A IP/mask (Allow)
- Allow ACL rule. Together with -D (Deny) they are the two rules allowed in ACL policy. It is more usual to have this in a configuration file, but Cntlm follows the premise that you can do the same on the command-line as you can using the config file. When Cntlm receives a connection request, it decides whether to allow or deny it. All ACL rules are stored in a list in the same order as specified. Cntlm then walks the list and the first IP/mask rule that matches the request source address is applied. The mask can be any number from 0 to 32, where 32 is the default (that is exact IP match). This notation is also known as CIDR. If you want to match everything, use 0/0 or an asterix. ACLs on the command-line take precedence over those in the config file. In such case, you will see info about that in the log (among the list of unused options). There you can also see warnings about possibly incorrect subnet spec, that's when the IP part has more bits than you declare by mask (e.g. 10.20.30.40/24 should be 10.20.30.0/24).
- -a NTLMv2 | NTLM2SR | NT | NTLM | LM (Auth)
- Authentication type. NTLM(v2) comprises of one or two hashed responses, NT
and LM or NTLM2SR or NTv2 and LMv2, which are computed from the password hash.
Each response uses a different hashing algorithm; as new response types were
invented, stronger algorithms were used. When you first install cntlm,
find the strongest one which works for you (preferably using -M).
Above they are listed from strongest to weakest. Very old servers or dedicated
HW proxies might be unable to process anything but LM. If none of those work,
see compatibility flags option -F or submit a Support Request.
IMPORTANT: Although NTLMv2 is not widely adopted (i.e. enforced), it is supported on all Windows since NT 4.0 SP4. That's for a very long time! I strongly suggest you use it to protect your credentials on-line. You should also replace plaintext Password options with hashed Pass[NTLMv2|NT|LM] equivalents. NTLMv2 is the most and possibly the only secure authentication of the NTLM family.
- -B (NTLMToBasic)
- This option enables "NTLM-to-basic", which allows you to use one
cntlm for multiple users. Please note that all security of NTLM is lost
this way. Basic auth uses just a simple encoding algorithm to "hide" your
credentials and it is moderately easy to sniff them.
IMPORTANT: HTTP protocol obviously has means to negotiate authorization before letting you through, but TCP/IP doesn't (i.e. open port is open port). If you use NTLM-to-basic and DON'T specify some username/password in the configuration file, you are bound to loose tunneling features, because cntlm alone won't know your credentials.
Because NTLM identification has at least three parts (username, password, domain) and the basic authentication provides fields for only two (username, password), you have to smuggle the domain part somewhere. You can set the Domain config/cmd-line parameter, which will then be used for all users, who don't specify their domain as a part of the username. To do that and override the global domain setting, use this instead of plain username in the password dialog: "domain\username".
- -c <filename>
- Configuration file. Command-line options, if used, override its single options or are added at the top of the list for multi options (tunnels, parent proxies, etc) with the exception of ACLs, which are completely overriden. Use /dev/null to disable any config file.
- -D IP/mask (Deny)
- Deny ACL rule. See option -A above.
- -d <domain> (Domain)
- The domain or workgroup of the proxy account. This value can also be specified as a part of the username with -u.
- -F <flags> (Flags)
- NTLM authentication flags. This option is rater delicate and I do not recommend to change the default built-in values unless you had no success with parent proxy auth and tried magic autodetection (-M) and all possible values for the Auth option (-a). Remember that each NT/LM hash combination requires different flags. This option is sort of a complete "manual override" and you'll have to deal with it yourself.
- Run in console as a foreground job, do not fork into background. In this mode, all syslog messages will be echoed to the console (on platforms which support syslog LOG_PERROR option). Though cntlm is primarily designed as a classic UNIX daemon with syslogd logging, it provides detailed verbose mode without detaching from the controlling terminal; see -v. In any case, all error and diagnostic messages are always sent to the system logger.
- -G <pattern> (ISAScannerAgent)
- User-Agent matching (case insensitive) for trans-isa-scan plugin (see -S for explanation). Positive match identifies requests (applications) for which the plugin should be enabled without considering the size of the download (see -S). You can use shell wildcard characters, namely "*", "?" and "". If used without -S or ISAScannerSize, the max_size_in_kb is internally set to infinity, so the plugin will be active ONLY for selected User-Agents, regardless of download size.
- -g (Gateway)
- Gateway mode, cntlm listens on all network interfaces. Default is to
bind just loopback. That way, only local processes can connect to cntlm.
In the gateway mode though, cntlm listens on all interfaces and is
accessible to other machines on the network. Please note that with this option
the command-line order matters when specifying proxy or tunnel local
(listening) ports. Those positioned before it will bind only loopback; those
after will be public.
IMPORTANT: All of the above applies only to local ports for which you didn't specify any source address. If you did, cntlm tries to bind the given port only on the specified interface (or rather IP address).
- Use this option to get hashes for password-less configuration. In this mode, cntlm prints the results and exits. You can just copy & paste right into the config file. You ought to use this option with explicit -u and -d, because some hashes include the username and domain name in the calculation. Do see -a for security recommendations.
- Display help (available options with a short description) and exit.
- Interactive password prompt. Any password settings from the command line or config file is ignored and a password prompt is issued. Use this option only from shell.
- -L [<saddr>:]<lport>:<rhost>:<rport> (Tunnel)
- Tunnel specification. The syntax is the same as in OpenSSH's local
forwarding (-L), with a new optional prefix, saddr - the source
IP address to bind the lport to. Cntlm will listen for incomming
connections on the local port lport, forwarding every new connection
through the parent proxy to the rhost:rport (authenticating on
the go). This option can be used multiple times for unlimited number of
tunnels, with or without the saddr option. See -g for the details
concerning local port binding when saddr is not used.
Please note that many corporate proxies do not allow connections to ports other than 443 (https), but if you run your target service on this port, you should be safe. Connect to HTTPS is "always" allowed, otherwise nobody would be able to browse https:// sites. In any case, first try if you can establish a connection through the tunnel, before you rely on it. This feature does the same job as tools like corkscrew(1), but instead of communicating over a terminal, cntlm keeps it TCP/IP.
- -l [<saddr>:]<lport> (Listen)
- Local port for the cntlm proxy service. Use the number you have
chosen here and the hostname of the machine running cntlm (possibly
localhost) as proxy settings in your browser and/or the environment. Most
applications (including console) support the notion of proxy to connect to
other hosts. On POSIX, set the following variables to use e.g. wget(1)
without any trouble (fill in the actual address of cntlm):
$ export ftp_proxy=http://localhost:3128 $ export http_proxy=$ftp_proxy $ export https_proxy=$ftp_proxy
You can choose to run the proxy service on more than one port, in such case just use this option as many times as necessary. But unlike tunnel specification, cntlm fails to start if it cannot bind all of the proxy service ports. Proxy service port can also be bound selectively. Use saddr to pick source IP address to bind the lport to. This allows you, for example, to run the service on different ports for subnet A and B and make it invisible for subnet C. See -g for the details concerning local port binding when saddr is not used.
- -M <testurl>
- Run magic NTLM dialect detection. In this mode, cntlm tries some known working presets against your proxy. Probe requests are made for the specified testurl, with the strongest hashes going first. When finished, settings for the most secure setup are printed. Although the detection will tell you which and how to use Auth, Flags and password-hash options, you have to configure at least your credentials and proxy address first. You can use -I to enter your password interactively.
- -O [<saddr>:]<port_number> (SOCKS5Proxy)
- Enable SOCKS5 proxy and make it listen on local port port_number (source IP spec is also possible, as with all options). By default, there will be no restrictions as to who can use this service. Some clients don't even support SOCKS5 authentication (e.g. almost all browsers). If you wish to enforce authentication, use -R or its equivalent option, SOCKS5User. As with port tunneling, it is up to the parent proxy whether it will allow connection to any requested host:port. This feature can be used with tsocks(1) to make most TCP/IP applications go thru the proxy rather than directly (only outgoing connections will work, obviously). To make apps work without DNS server, it is important that they don't resolve themselves, but using SOCKS. E.g. Firefox has this option available through URI "about:config", key name network.proxy.socks_remote_dns, which must be set to true. Proxy-unaware tsocksified apps, will have to be configured using IP addresses to prevent them from DNS resolving.
- -P <pidfile>
- Create a PID file pidfile upon startup. If the specified file exists, it is truncated and overwritten. This option is intended for use with start-stop-daemon(8) and other servicing mechanisms. Please note that the PID file is created AFTER the process drops its privileges and forks. When the daemon finishes cleanly, the file is removed.
- -p <password> (Password, PassNT, ...)
- Proxy account password. Cntlm deletes the password from the memory, to make it invisible in /proc or with inspection tools like ps(1), but the preferable way of specifying password is the configuration file. To that end, you can use Password option (for plaintext, human readable format), or "encrypt" your password via -H and then use PassNTLMv2, PassNT and/or PassLM.
- -R <username>:<password> (SOCKS5User)
- If SOCKS5 proxy is enabled, this option can make it accessible only to those who have been authorized. It can be used several times, to create a whole list of accounts (allowed user:pass combinations).
- -S <max_size_in_kb> (ISAScannerSize)
- Enables the plugin for transparent handling of the dreaded ISA AV scanner,
which returns an interactive HTTP page (displaying the scanning progress)
instead of the file/data you've requested, every time it feels like scanning
the contents. This presumptuous behavior breaks every automated downloader,
updater and basically EVERY application relying on downloads (e.g. wget,
The parameter max_size_in_kb allows you to choose maximum download size you wish to handle by the plugin (see below why you might want that). If the file size is bigger than this, cntlm forwards you the interactive page, effectively disabling the plugin for that download. Zero means no limit. Use -G/ISAScannerAgent to identify applications for which max_size_in_kb should be ignored (forcing the plugin). It works by matching User-Agent header and is necessary for e.g. wget, apt-get and yum, which would fail if the response is some HTTP page instead of requested data.
How it works: the client asks for a file, cntlm detects ISA's bullshit response and waits for the secret link to ISA's cache, which comes no sooner than the file is downloaded and scanned by ISA. Only then can cntlm make the second request for the real file and forward it along with correct headers to the client. The client doesn't timeout while waiting for it, b/c cntlm is periodically sending an extra "keepalive" header, but the user might get nervous not seeing the progress bar move. It's of course purely psychological matter, there's no difference if cntlm or your browser requests the scanned file - you must wait for ISA to do it's job and download then. You just expect to see some progress indicator move, which is all what the ISA's page does: it shows HTML countdown.
If the plugin cannot parse the interactive page for some reason (unknown formatting, etc.), it quits and the page is forwarded to you - it's never "lost".
The keepalive header is called ISA-Scanner and shows ISA's progress, e.g.:
HTTP/1.1 200 OK ISA-Scanner: 1000 of 10000 ISA-Scanner: 2000 of 10000 ...
- -r <name>: <value> (Header)
- Header substitution. Every client's request will be processed and any headers defined using -r or in the configuration file will be added to it. In case the header is already present, its value will be replaced.
- Serializes all requests by not using concurrent threads for proxy (tunneling still works in parallel). This has a horrible impact on performance and is available only for debugging purposes. When used with -v, it yields nice sequential debug log, where requests take turns.
- -T <filename>
- Used in combination with -v to save the debug output into a trace file. It should be placed as the first parameter on the command line. To prevent data loss, it never overwrites an existing file. You have to pick a unique name or manually delete the old file.
- -U <uid>
- When executed as root, do the stuff that needs such permissions (read config, bind ports, etc.) and then immediately drop privileges and change to uid. This parameter can be either number or system username. If you use a number, both uid and gid of the process will be set to this value; if you specify a username, uid and gid will be set according to that user's uid and primary gid as defined in /etc/passwd. You should use the latter, possibly using a dedicated cntlm account. As with any daemon, you are strongly advised to run cntlm under a non-privileged account.
- -u <user>[@<domain>] (Username)
- Proxy account/user name. Domain can be be entered as well.
- Print debugging information. Automatically enables (-f).
- -w <workstation> (Workstation)
- Workstation NetBIOS name. Do not use full domain name (FQDN) here. Just the first part. If not specified, cntlm tries to get the system hostname and if that fails, uses "cntlm" - it's because some proxies require this field non-empty.
Configuration file has the same syntax as OpenSSH ssh_config. It comprises of whitespace delimited keywords and values. Comment begins with a hash '#' and can begin anywhere in the file. Everything after the hash up until the EOL is a comment. Values can contain any characters, including whitespace. Do not quote anything. For detailed explanation of keywords, see appropriate command-line options. Following keywords are available:
- Allow <IP>[/<mask>]
- ACL allow rule, see -A.
- Auth NTLMv2 | NTLM2SR | NT | NTLM | LM
- Select any possible combination of NTLM hashes using a single parameter.
- Deny <IP>[/<mask>]
- ACL deny rule, see -A.
- Domain <domain_name>
- Proxy account domain/workgroup name.
- Flags <flags>
- NTLM authentication flags. See -F for details.
- Gateway yes|no
- Gateway mode. In the configuration file, order doesn't matter. Gateway mode applies the same to all tunnels.
- Header <headername: value>
- Header substitution. See -r for details and remember, no quoting.
- ISAScannerAgent <pattern>
- Wildcard-enabled (*, ?, ) case insensitive User-Agent string matching for the trans-isa-plugin. If you don't define ISAScannerSize, it is internally set to infinity, i.e. disabling the plugin for all downloads except those agent-matched ones. See -G.
- ISAScannerSize <max_size_in_kb>
- Enable trans-isa-scan plugin. See -S for more.
- Listen [<saddr>:]<port_number>
- Local port number for the cntlm's proxy service. See -l for more.
- Password <password>
- Proxy account password.
- PassNTLMv2, PassNT, PassLM <password>
- Hashes of the proxy account password (see -H and -a). When
you want to use hashes in the config (instead of plaintext password), each
Auth settings requires different options:
Settings | Requires -------------+----------------- Auth NTLMv2 | PassNTLMv2 Auth NTLM2SR | PassNT Auth NT | PassNT Auth NTLM | PassNT + PassLM Auth LM | PassLM
- Proxy <host:port>
- Parent proxy, which requires authentication. The same as proxy on the command-line, can be used more than once to specify unlimited number of proxies. Should one proxy fail, cntlm automatically moves on to the next one. The connect request fails only if the whole list of proxies is scanned and (for each request) and found to be invalid. Command-line takes precedence over the configuration file.
- SOCKS5Proxy [<saddr>:]<lport>
- Enable SOCKS5 proxy. See -O for more.
- SOCKS5User <username>:<password>
- Create a new SOCKS5 proxy account. See -R for more.
- NTLMToBasic yes|no
- Enable/disable NTLM-to-basic authenticatoin. See -B for more.
- Tunnel [<saddr>:]<lport>:<rhost>:<rport>
- Tunnel specification. See -L for more.
- Proxy account name, without the possibility to include domain name ('at' sign is interpreted literally).
- Workstation <hostname>
- The hostname of your workstation.
The optional location of the configuration file is defined in the Makefile, with the default for 1) deb/rpm package, 2) traditional "make; make install" and 3) Windows installer being:
1) /etc/cntlm.conf 2) /usr/local/etc/cntlm.conf 3) %PROGRAMFILES%\Cntlm
Cntlm has been successfully compiled and tested on both little and big endian machines (Linux/i386 and AIX/PowerPC). For compilation details, see README in the source distribution. Porting to any POSIX conforming OS shouldn't be more than a matter of the Makefile rearrangement. Cntlm uses strictly POSIX.1-2001 interfaces with ISO C99 libc (snprintf(3)), it is also compliant with SUSv3. Since version 0.33, cntlm supports Windows using POSIX emulation layer Cygwin.
In the much needed NTLM-proxy departement, cntlm aims to be a drop-in replacement for NTLMAPS. But please note that NTLM WWW auth (that is auth to HTTP servers), when it is running without any parent proxy as a standalone proxy server in itself, won't probaly be implemented ever. Even though the tasks share common NTLM authentication, they are different things. Also, I've never seen any access-protected HTTP server requiring solely NTLM without any alternative. Such a narrow-spectrum tool can be written in Perl in a few minutes. I strive to keep the code of cntlm simple and efficient.
This software is still BETA, so there are probably many bugs for you to uncloak even though I'm testing every new piece of code AMAP and use cntlm daily. I'll be happy to fix all of them, but if you can manage, patches would be better. ;)
To report a bug, enable the debug output, save it to a file and submit on-line along with a detailed description of the problem and how to reproduce it. The link can be found on the homepage.
To generate the debug tracefile correctly, first run cntlm from the shell (command line) and make sure you can reproduce the bug. When you will have verfied that, stop cntlm (hit Ctrl-C) and insert the following parameters at the beginning of the command line, preserving their order. Example:
cntlm[.exe] -T cntlmtrace.log -v -s ... the rest ...
Written by David Kubicek <dave (o) awk.cz>
Copyright © 2007 David Kubicek
Cntlm uses DES, MD4, MD5 and HMAC-MD5 routines from gnulib and Base64 routines from mutt(1).