A smurf attack is a denial-of-service exploit that spoofs ICMP ping messages to flood a system. This "slowing down" of the network can consist of hundreds of PCs sending an echo reply to each packet, and this can shut the network down completely.
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At one time smurf attacks were a serious vulnerability in networks, as they affected not only the target network, but upstream connections and other connected networks suffered negative effects. Nowadays a smurf attack is not common because it's very easy to secure a network against it by turning off the forwarding of directed broadcasts on all router ports.
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