Smurf Attack: What You Should Know to Keep Your Network Safe

How do Smurfs, almost finger-sized creatures too small to disrupt entire computer connections? May it be any force, once small groups band together, it becomes an unstoppable force. And the same’s the case with Smurf attacks. Like the Smurfs movie, a Smurf attack perfectly represents the film’s portrayal.

What is Smurf Attack

Has only a glimpse of this type of cyber attack ruined your perception of Smurfs? Trust us; there’s still plenty to wrap your head around! There was a 74% YoY increase in DDoS attacks in 2022, and the best prevention is to use a trusted VPN like FastestVPN to stay safe. 

Dive into this brief guide explaining Smurf attacks and what you can do for Smurf attack prevention. Dive in!

What Is Smurfing in Cyber Crime? Explaining Smurf Attack

A Smurf attack is a type of cyber attack in which a server is flooded with Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets – making it an ICMP Smurf attack. The attacker sends queries to computer networks using a falsified IP address of the targeted device, causing the computer networks to respond to the targeted server. And that’s the reason why it’s recommended to use a trusted VPN, like FastestVPN, to hide your IP address.

This multiplies the original attack flow and makes the target unreachable. However, this attack method is now considered a closed vulnerability and is no longer used.

How Does Smurf Attack Work?

A similar scenario to a DDoS attack could be a crowded street where someone intentionally blocks the way for everyone, causing chaos and disruption. The perpetrator may find it amusing, but it can cause inconvenience and frustration for innocent bystanders. The primary purpose is to take down prominent victims, such as people filling the crowded street. While the crowd seems undefeatable, a smurf attack can easily take it down.

Simply put, a Smurf assault is a harmful cyber-attack that can cripple computer networks. The attack exploits weaknesses in the Internet Protocol (IP) and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) systems using a program called Smurf.

ICMP packets are often used for network administration, such as testing the functionality of devices like PCs, printers, and routers. The ping program uses ICMP packets to measure the time it takes for a message to travel from the source to the target and back. 

However, since the ICMP protocol does not include a handshake, it is difficult for hardware devices to verify the authenticity of the request.

To make it simpler, here’s a step-by-step working of the Smurf attack: 

Network Package is Created Through Malware

While attacking with Smurf malware, the attacker creates an ICMP echo request with a spoofed IP address that matches the target server’s address. As a result, when the echo request is sent back, it is directed to the target server instead of the attacker.

Targeted IP Address to Receive ICMP Ping Messages

The ICMP ping message is transmitted to the IP broadcast network that the target is connected to. From there, the message is relayed to all devices on the network. Those devices that receive the data package are prompted to send a response to the falsified IP address.

Echo Takes Down the Network

When all network devices constantly send responses back to the targeted server, it creates an unending cycle called an “echo.” This cycle can overwhelm the network and cause it to shut down indefinitely. 

Smurf attacks aim to go unnoticed, and over time, the accumulation of these echo requests can slow down the network. Rendering websites and devices linked to it could be faster and more functional.

What Are the Defining Characteristics of a Smurf DDoS Attack?

In 2022, DDoS attacks were proven to have increased than the previous years. Identifying warning signs before an ICMP Smurf attack is crucial. Yet, it’s never easy, as the virus can remain inactive on a computer until a skilled hacker chooses to activate it. The most noticeable indication of a Smurf attack, whether you are a website owner or visitor, is an extremely slow or malfunctioning server.

It’s essential to eliminate the possibility of a Smurf attack or other malicious actions when investigating network shutdown causes. A Smurf DDoS attack could have more severe consequences, such as data breaches or ransomware attacks.

How Do You Mitigate a Smurf Attack? Steps for Smurf Attack Prevention

Although Smurf attacks have yet to be actively used, that doesn’t affect its overall impact. On the other hand, detecting a Smurf attack isn’t a five-finger exercise either. Overall, to steer clear of Smurf attacks, you can take the following steps for Smurf attack prevention:

Use a VPN

Using a VPN like FastestVPN, you can encrypt your network and spoof your IP address. The Internet Protocol address is the key to this attack and must be hidden. Meanwhile, using a VPN with exceptional features such as Internet Kill Switch or military-grade encryption – AES 256-bit Encryption is essential. Making FastestVPN the best choice available.

Host and Router Configuration

These attacks leverage ICMP echo requests to bring down a network. For Smurf attack prevention, it’s advised to configure routers or hosts to keep ignoring these echo requests.

Disable Internet Protocol Broadcasting

IP broadcasting allows sending data packets to network devices, and that’s what Smurf attacks depend on. To prevent an ICMP Smurf attack, block your IP broadcasting straightaway.

Avoid Opening Random Emails

Make sure you only open some open that pops up in your inbox. Most can come with malicious links; simply opening the link might be enough to flood your device with malware. However, even if you download a file from a random email, it’s essential to use a reliable VPN like FastestVPN. This lets you stay clear from viruses entering your device or data leaks.

FAQs - Smurf Attack

Why is it called a Smurf attack?

A smurf attack is named after the malware DDoS that enables this attack's execution.

What type of attack is a Smurf attack?

A smurf attack is a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) that leads to computer renders - leaving the device almost inoperable.

What is a Smurf attack for dummies?

In a Smurf assault, the Smurf virus generates a false Echo request that appears to originate from the target server's IP address. This request is sent through an IP broadcast network intermediary and then relayed to all hosts connected to the network.

What is the difference between Smurf attack and Ping of Death attack?

A smurf attack can be more destructive than a ping flood attack as it amplifies the traffic directed toward the victim and makes it hard to trace the origin of the assault. Unlike a ping flood, this attack utilizes amplification to increase traffic volume and cause more damage. Additionally, the attacker can conceal their identity, making it harder for the victim to retaliate or defend themselves.

Wrapping Up

ICMP Smurf attack primarily takes down a larger victim through echoes, i.e., continuous notifications disrupting a network. This process goes to a point till the device becomes inoperable. 

Yet, specific steps for smurf attack prevention, for example, using a trusted VPN, like FastestVPN. It enables you to spoof your IP and disguise your location, making your original location undetectable. Stay ahead and register to FastestVPN today!

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