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Ping of Death




Ping of Death



  • An attacker sends a large ping packet to the victim's machine. Most OS do not know what to do with a packet that is larger than the maximum size, it causes the OS to hang or crash.




  • Example: Ping of Death causes blue screen of death in Windows NT.




  • Ping of Death uses ICMP to cause a denial of service attack against a given system.




  • Ping of death is a denial of service (DoS) attack caused by an attacker purposely sending an IP packet larger than the 65,536 bytes allowed by the IP protocol. One of the features of TCP/IP is fragmentation. It allows a single IP packet to be broken down into smaller segments. In 1996, attackers took advantage of that feature when they found that a packet broken down into fragments could add up to more than the allowed 65,536 bytes.
    When a large ICMP packet is sent by a hostile machine to a target, the target receives the ping in fragments and starts reassembling the packet. However, due to the size of the packet once it is reassembled it is too big for the buffer and overflows it. Many operating systems did not know what to do when they received an oversized packet, so they froze, crashed, or rebooted. Ping of death attacks are particularly malicious because the identity of the attacker sending the oversized packet can be easily spoofed and also because the attacker just needs an IP address to carry out his attack.
    Windows 95 and Windows NT are capable of sending such a packet. By simply typing in "ping target -165500" you can send such a ping. There are also source code examples available for Unix platforms that allow large ping packets to be constructed.
    By the end of 1997, operating system vendors had made patches available to avoid the ping of death. However, many Web sites continue to block Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) ping messages at their firewalls to prevent any future variations of this kind of denial of service attack. Ping of death is also known as "long ICMP". Variations of the attack include jolt, sPING, ICMP bug, and IceNewk.




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