Ping of Death

Posted On 2008-02-18 by FortyPoundHead
Tags: Glossary Security 
Views: 1658

In late 1996 and early 1997, a flaw in the implementation of networking in some operating systems became well-known and popularized by hackers as a way to crash computers remotely over the Internet. The Ping of Death attack was relatively easy to carry out and very dangerous due to its high probability of success.

Technically speaking, the Ping of Death attack involved sending IP packets of a size greater than 65,535 bytes to the target computer. IP packets of this size are illegal, but applications can be built that are capable of creating them. Carefully programmed operating systems could detect and safely handle illegal IP packets, but some failed to do this. ICMP ping utilities often included large-packet capability and became the namesake of the problem, although UDP and other IP-based protocols also could transport Ping of Death.

Operating system vendors quickly devised patches to avoid the Ping of Death. Still, many Web sites today block ICMP ping messages at their firewalls to avoid similar denial of service attacks.

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