Have you ever encountered a situation when trying to load an online service, it is miserably slow, whereas switching to another website or platform on the same network works fine? At first, it might appear as if the internet speed is slow, but the fact is it is a result of a DDOS attack on your network.
Distributed Denial of Service is a type of attack used by hackers to slow down your overall experience and block you from visiting a platform smoothly. If you are a gamer, you may recognize the situation quite well.
There are multiple types of Denial of Service attacks and Smurf attack is one of them. It is a malware form of DDOS attack that targets the system using tiny components leaving a huge impact on your system. Hence the name Smurf (tiny cartoon character).
But what exactly does this attack do, how it works, and, more importantly how to prevent it? This is what we will discuss in this post. So let’s begin!
What is a Smurf Attack? How Does it Work?
Smurf Attack is a type of Distributed Denial of Service attack. Therefore, to learn more about it, understanding what a DDOS attack is all about is a must.
DDOS Attacks: An Overview
The Distributed Denial of Service attack refers to a technique used by attackers to flood the current server you are using & slow down site speed. The attack by making all the resources unavailable aims to make the platform practically unusable.
The idea is simple: flood the current server being used so that the required bandwidth is unavailable to someone who might use it. The biggest example of this attack can be seen while playing an online game. Some participants initiate DDOS attacks to ensure that their opponent cannot give their 100%.
There are multiple types of DDOS attacks. Here’s a list for your reference –
- Flood Attacks
- Amplification Attacks
- Coremelt Attacks
- TCP SYN Attacks
- Authentication Server Attacks
- CGI Request Attacks
The Smurf Attack is a type of amplification attack. It overwhelms a network by sending in heavy requests to a server, engaging it completely so the targeted user can not do anything. The attack is based on bandwidth usage. The attacker takes more bandwidth to make the network less usable for the user.
How Do Smurf Attacks Work?
The attack is usually carried out in stages. The key components here are ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) requests that are consistently echoed throughout the network to bring down the server and exploit the IP vulnerabilities of a user.
Here’s how it works –
Stage 1 – A fake request is created to generate ICMP echoes containing fake IP addresses for redirection. Usually, the IP address used corresponds to the same network. It is done with the help of a malware package known as Smurf Malware.
Stage 2 – The resource request is continuously sent across the server to overflow the available bandwidth. This way, the network gets busy serving the ICMP requests made by the malware.
Stage 3 – These requests are then spread across the network from one host to another.
Stage 4 – As soon as the user starts replying to these requests, the response is sent to the fake IP address, redirecting the reply to the user itself. This creates an infinite loop of echoes.
Stage 5 – These echoes bring down the server as all the connected devices reply to the requests created by the same IP they are using. This occupies the entire bandwidth and results in network congestion, leading to failure of usage.
These 5 stages indicate that the entire process is based on small echoes created perfectly. This is also the reason why the attack is called Smurf Attack.
Types of Smurf Attacks
There are 2 primary types of Smurf Attacks –
Basic Smurf Attack – The basic form of attack works exactly in the abovementioned stages. It generates fake echoes to get a response, making the entire system go on a loop, resulting in network failure for the user.
Advanced Smurf Attack – This begins as a basic attack but can be used to target extensive networks. The requests generated are also deviated to third-party users, making it reach a wider bandwidth and creating damage at an advanced level.
Identifying the type of Smurf Attack is usually secondary for a user as the aim is to stop it first.
How to Prevent Smurf Attacks?
Now that you have an idea of what you may be dealing with let us quickly look at some working ways that help you prevent Smurf Attacks on your network and stop the malware from reaching your PC.
The Smurf Attack affects a user in two ways –
- It converts your PC into an amplifier that it uses to generate and spread false IP echoes to target other users on the network.
- It targets you directly, making your IP and bandwidth the ultimate target to slow down.
To avoid being an accessory or the target of these attacks, there are a few steps you can take. These are –
Prevention Strategy 1 – Disable IP Broadcasting on the Network
The entire concept of a Smurf Attack is based on your IP’s ability to interact with other users. IP broadcasting is a feature that allows you to send data packets to other users on the same network as you. When you shut down your IP broadcasting, the process can not be carried out, preventing you from unnecessarily amplifying the attack.
Please note that the process of disabling IP broadcasting varies from one network router to another hence you must consult your service provider for the same.
Prevention Strategy 2 – Avoid Accepting Unnecessary Requests
The IP echoes are the key elements causing the error in the first place. You can easily configure your router and host to avoid these ICMP echo requests. There are options on your router and host configuration to disable these requests when using the internet.
Prevention Strategy 3 – Setup Traffic Monitoring
The best way to identify if you are being targeted by a Smurf Attack or any DDOS attack is to put traffic monitoring measures in place. Especially if you are an IT business, it may cost you a bit to set up the environment. Still, if you have experienced the attack, you know how crucial it can be to know whether there is anything unusual on your network in real-time.
Prevention Strategy 4 – Go for a Higher Bandwidth Plan
A Smurf Attack directly targets your network bandwidth to make it unusable. The ideal way to prevent it is to opt for an internet plan that offers more bandwidth. So that whenever there is a spike in the network bandwidth, you have enough reserve to deal with it.
Prevention Strategy 5 – Make Sure You Have Security Measures
Knowing that your network may be prone to attacks, you must have a solid security plan. Sure, the above strategies can help you stop the impact online, but what if the induced Smurf Malware makes its way into your PC? To deal with that, you need a solid Antivirus program that allows you to eradicate any online threats, including malware.
T9 Antivirus is a great example of one such program. It has multiple ways to identify and stop any online attack based on malware or viruses. All you need to do is download the tool and run a quick scan to identify if anomalies exist on your computer. Keeping the tool installed is enough, as it has real-time protection as well.
Find the download link for T9 Antivirus below and experience it yourself.
Smurfs are Cute, Attacks are NOT! Beware & Be Ready
Knowing everything about the attack might have taught you that keeping your network safe is important. Use the mentioned prevention strategies to help you eliminate the risks that Smurf Attacks bring.
That brings us to the end of this post. Hope you find it helpful. Thanks for reading. Good luck!