The Smurf Attack

The Smurf attack is an old but elegant technique whereby an attacker spoofs ICMP Echo Requests to a network broadcast address. The spoofed address is the intended target, and the goal is to flood the target with as many ICMP Echo Response packets as possible from systems that respond to the Echo Requests over the broadcast address. If the network is functioning without controls in place against these ICMP Echo Requests to broadcast addresses (such as with the no ip directed-broadcast command on Cisco routers), then all hosts that receive the Echo Requests will respond to the spoofed source address. By using the broadcast address of a large network, the attacker hopes to magnify the number of packets that are generated against the target.

The Smurf attack is outdated when compared to tools that perform DDoS attacks (discussed below) with dedicated control channels and for which there is no easy router configuration countermeasure. Still, it is worth mentioning, because the Smurf attack is so easy to perform and the original source code is readily available (see denial/smurf.c).

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