How DoS attacks work

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Ping of Death

The ping command is usually used to test the availability of a network resource. It works by sending small data packets to the network resource. The ping of death takes advantage of this and sends data packets above the maximum limit (65,536 bytes) that TCP/IP allows. TCP/IP fragmentation breaks the packets into small chunks that are sent to the server. Since the sent data packages are larger than what the server can handle, the server can freeze, reboot, or crash.

Smurf

This type of attack uses large amounts of Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) ping traffic target at an Internet Broadcast Address. The reply IP address is spoofed to that of the intended victim. All the replies are sent to the victim instead of the IP used for the pings. Since a single Internet Broadcast Address can support a maximum of 255 hosts, a smurf attack amplifies a single ping 255 times. The effect of this is slowing down the network to a point where it is impossible to use it.

Buffer overflow

A buffer is a temporal storage location in RAM that is used to hold data so that the CPU can manipulate it before writing it back to the disc. Buffers have a size limit. This type of attack loads the buffer with more data that it can hold. This causes the buffer to overflow and corrupt the data it holds. An example of a buffer overflow is sending emails with file names that have 256 characters.

Teardrop

This type of attack uses larger data packets. TCP/IP breaks them into fragments that are assembled on the receiving host. The attacker manipulates the packets as they are sent so that they overlap each other. This can cause the intended victim to crash as it tries to re-assemble the packets.

SYN attack

SYN is a short form for Synchronize. This type of attack takes advantage of the three-way handshake to establish communication using TCP. SYN attack works by flooding the victim with incomplete SYN messages. This causes the victim machine to allocate memory resources that are never used and deny access to legitimate users.
 
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