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ping of death
Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2004 

(ping &v; deth) (n.) A type of DoS attack in which the attacker sends a ping request that is larger than 65,536 bytes, which is the maximum size that IP allows. While a ping larger than 65,536 bytes is too large to fit in one packet that can be transmitted, TCP/IP allows a packet to be fragmented, essentially splitting the packet into smaller segments that are eventually reassembled. Attacks took advantage of this flaw by fragmenting packets that when received would total more than the allowed number of bytes and would effectively cause a buffer overload on the operating system at the receiving end, crashing the system.

Ping of death attacks are rare today as most operating systems have been fixed to prevent this type of attack from occurring.

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