What Does Smurfing Mean?

In an IT context, smurfing is a type of denial-of-service attack that relies on flooding a network with a large volume of traffic through the manipulation of IP addresses in that network. This type of attack can result in a high volume of excess activity, which can overwhelm a server or IT setup.


Techopedia Explains Smurfing

A denial-of-service attack is often an effective way to cripple a server’s ability to respond to demands from legitimate sources. In smurfing, the method for the DoS attack uses IP spoofing, where a message is sent from what looks like a valid IP address. Smurfing uses a network administration system called Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). The perpetrator basically sends a simple test message, or "pings," an entire network and all if its included IP addresses. The resulting traffic can overwhelm the host. One way to think of this is that a broad-spectrum pinging can cause a ripple effect of traffic that can flood the system.

Although smurfing can be effective in theory, many network administrators have learned to deflect this kind of attack by simply disabling IP broadcast addressing, which allows for this kind of system-wide signaling.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…