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Smurf Attack: Types & How To Prevent it? (2022)

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What is Smurf Attack?

A smurf is a form of distributed denial of service attack that occurs at a networked layer.

A network layer is a portion of communications that is responsible for the transfer of data packets.

So in layman’s language, you can say that smurfs are attacks in the communications layers.

These attacks are named after cartoons- the smurfs who are known for their ability to take down enemies by working together. This is why these attacks are known as smurfs.

These attacks were originally a code written by Dan Maschuk. The first attack caused a cyber traffic jam that affected statewide ISP, including the shutdown of networks, data loss, etc.

Amplification and reflection techniques are used in the Smurf attack.

What are the Types of Smurf Attacks?

There are two types of smurfs – basic & Advanced.

Basis smurf attack

It occurs when the attacker floods the targeted network layer with infinite ICMP request pAckages.

What is included in these packets?

This includes a source address that is set to the network’s broadcast address. This network broadcast address prompts every device to make a response.

It can cause a considerable amount of traffic and takes this system down.

Advanced smurf attack

As its name indicates, it is something of a high level. It starts as a basic attack in which the echo requests are capable of configuring sources, enabling them to respond to additional third-party victims.

In this way, attackers can target multiple victims at the same time, which ultimately means that they can slow down the more extensive networks and target a bigger group of victims.

How does It Work?

The steps are listed below-

  • The first step is locating the target’s IP address.

 In this step, the attacker identifies the victim’s IP address.

  • Spoofs data packets

Smurf malware is a tool used to create spoofed data packets or echo requests. These packets and requests have their source address set to the real IP address of the victim.

  • Sends ICMP echo requests

In this step, the attacker deploys these requests to the victim’s network. This causes all connected devices within the network to respond to the ping.

  • ICMP replies.

The victim receives a lot of ICMP echo reply packets, which results in a denial of service to legitimate traffic.

  • Overloaded victim’s server

This is the last step; the victim’s server is overloaded and rendered inoperable.

What are the consequences of a Smurf Attack?

Smurf attacks can be the first step toward more harmful attacks like data theft. The consequences of the smurf attack are listed below-

  • Revenue loss

If a company’s server remains inoperable for hours or days, it results in a halt in business operations, which will result in a loss of revenue.

Let’s take an example-

Suppose you run a company and it is unable to do its business. Can you earn in those days when you cannot provide customers services? No, right..!!

In the same way, these attacks can cause a considerable amount of revenue loss for any business.

  • Stealing data

The attacker can gain access to the victim’s host server’s data and steal it.

  • Reputational damage

If your client’s data is leaked, then it can lead to a permanent breach of their trust in your organization.

Let’s take an example-

Suppose you own a bank, and someone gets access to your data. After stealing the data, they leak it. Will people come to you in the future? Can they trust you for their money and personal details? Obviously no.

This is how smurfs can lead to reputational damage.

How to prevent a Smurf Attack?

Here are some tips that will help you to protect your organization against smurf attacks

  • Monitoring your network

Monitoring your network for strange activities is one of the best ways to stay proactive against smurf attacks.

An information technology service provider can help you monitor your network to detect any strange activity. These services can often stop a smurf attack even before it begins.

Let’s take an example-

Suppose you have placed CCTV cameras in front of your house. Can you see who is coming inside? Yes..!! Now think, someone is trying to enter your house without your permission. Can you stop that person? Obviously, you can.

In the same way, monitoring your network helps to prevent smurfs.

  • Use firewalls

The next thing you can do is invest in a web application or a network firewall that can add an extra layer of security to your network.

Next-gen antivirus also helps in preventing incoming smurfing attacks by using simple scanning systems. Its solution can identify the most advanced threats, which is a great way to stay one step ahead of attackers.

For instance-

Suppose you know someone very well and you are fighting with that person. Can you easily win? Chances are very high because you can protect yourself and win when you know what the other person can do.

In the same way, next gen-antivirus can easily identify the smurf attack and prevent it.

Firewalls just add an extra layer, meaning that if anything tries to come to your network, it has to deal with the firewall first and only then it can come to your network.

  • Build redundancy

Spreading your servers to multiple data centers is a great way to protect your network. If you use data centers across different regions, it will give you a great level of protection.

Purchasing bandwidth also helps your network to absorb more traffic spikes without any issues.

  • DNS provider

You should always use a cloud-based DNS provider to build redundancy. Cloud-based services are specially designed to handle smurfing attacks.

Transitioning to the cloud also provides other business benefits like scalability, data security, etc.

  • Disable IP broadcasting

You can disable your IP broadcasting to keep yourself safe from smurfing.

  • Configure your network’s routers and host devices do not send any replies to ICMP pings.
  • Create a plan

Create a smurfing attack response plan that covers all aspects of handling an attack, including communication, mitigation and recovery.

Let’s take an example-

Suppose you run an organization; unfortunately, someone attacked its networks and stole your data.

Will you be able to cope when you don’t have any plans about what can you do? The chances are high that you will face many problems in recovery.

This is why you should always create a plan, including mitigation and recovery.

  • Think about network segmentation to separate systems as this will help in avoiding the flooding of the whole network.

Neither money nor reputation loss you don’t want for your company, so prevention is the best strategy that you can follow and later on, it also helps you to prevent the cyber-attack.

FAQs

Why is it called a smurf attack?

The name came from the cartoon “the smurf” because of their ability to fight against their enemies by working together.

What is the difference between a smurf attack and a Fraggle attack?

Both use the DoS technique to flood your network.
The only difference is that the smurf attack uses an internet control message protocol, whereas the latter uses a UDP protocol. All the other things are the same.