Smurf Attack

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What Does Smurf Attack Mean?

A smurf attack is a type of denial of service attack in which a system is flooded with spoofed ping messages. This creates high computer network traffic on the victim’s network, which often renders it unresponsive.

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Smurfing takes certain well-known facts about Internet Protocol and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) into account. ICMP is used by network administrators to exchange information about network state, and can also be used to ping other nodes to determine their operational status. The smurf program sends a spoofed network packet that contains an ICMP ping. The resulting echo responses to the ping message are directed toward the victim’s IP address. Large number of pings and the resulting echoes can make the network unusable for real traffic.

Techopedia Explains Smurf Attack

The following steps lead to a smurf attack:

  1. Huge numbers of ICMP requests are sent to the victim’s IP address
  2. The source destination IP address is spoofed
  3. The hosts on the victim’s network respond to the ICMP requests
  4. This creates a significant amount of traffic on the victim’s network, resulting in consumption of bandwidth and ultimately causing the victim’s server to crash.

To prevent a smurf attack, individual hosts and routers can be configured to be non-responsive to external ping requests or broadcasts. Routers can also be configured to ensure that packets directed to broadcast addresses are not forwarded.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.