What Is a Ping of Death DDoS Attack?

January 2022

If you host a website, you’ve likely heard of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, an increasingly common cyber-attack that targets servers and floods them with fake traffic. There are many different types of DDoS attacks, but one that many people are unaware of is known as a “ping of death” attack. 

Below, we’re discussing everything you need to know about this digital threat and what you can do to protect your site. Let’s take a look!

Understanding Ping of Death DDoS Attacks

What are ping of death attacks, and why haven’t more people heard of them? The reality is that DDoS attacks were much more common in the 1990s. As IP-based technology became more advanced, these attacks became more difficult for hackers to carry out and thus fell by the wayside.

Unfortunately, though, there has been a recent uptick in these attacks (especially among iPhone and Apple users), making it more critical than ever for website owners and administrators to be aware of them. Specifically, a ping of death DDoS attack is when a hacker sends malicious data to a target server. When the server opens the packet, an error causes the server to crash.

But why does this happen? Attackers use a “ping” command to create a packet that is significantly larger than what the server can handle. For reference, an average echo packet is around 56 bytes, but the packets in a ping of death attack can be tens of thousands of bytes or larger.

Identifying and Preventing Ping of Death DDoS Attacks

The good news is that many modern computer systems are not very prone to these attacks because they use a larger memory buffer, which protects against larger packets when they come in unexpectedly. However, it was recently discovered that some devices (including iPhones and other Apple products) may still be prone to ping of death DDoS attacks. Likewise, computers and servers without a proper content delivery network can fall victim.

Even though the likelihood of being affected by a ping of death DDoS attack remains relatively low, website owners and administrators are still encouraged to take some precautions. This includes ensuring you have a secure and reliable hosting plan in place that offers free standard DDoS protection. Meanwhile, using a dedicated server host with plenty of memory can reduce your chances of falling victim to this type of attack. This is because more memory creates a larger buffer between the expected packet size and the size of a ping of death packet (or another malicious packet).

Switch to a Dedicated Server for Added Security

If you’re not already using a dedicated server to host your website, now is a great time to make the switch. At ReliableSite, we’re proud to offer dedicated hosting plans that meet your needs. And all of our hosting plans come with free standard DDoS protection – as well as the ability to fully customize your plan (memory, bandwidth, and more) at any time. Contact us today to find out more or get started!