Denial-of-service attacks can come in a variety of different forms, and understanding the different types of cybersecurity threats that your business faces is the first step to safeguarding against them. One such DoS attack that can bring an operating system to a disruptive halt is a teardrop attack.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this type of cyberattack, including how teardrop attacks work, the role they play in denial-of-service campaigns, and the best practices for detecting and preventing them.
A teardrop attack is a type of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack that exploits a vulnerability in the way some operating systems handle fragmented Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets. This type of IP fragmentation attack involves sending fragmented IP packets with overlapping, invalid offsets to a target system, ultimately leading to a system crash (or otherwise causing the system to become unresponsive). Like all DoS attacks, the purpose of a teardrop attack is to disrupt the organization’s operations, sometimes with the aim of extorting a ransom and sometimes for no other purpose than to cause the organization harm.
Teardrop attacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks both fall under the broader category of DoS attacks. A teardrop attack works by exploiting a specific vulnerability related to fragmented ICMP packets, while DDoS attacks involve flooding a target with a high volume of traffic from multiple sources. In both cases, however, the end goal is to disrupt the target system.
In some cases, hackers will use a blend of teardrop attacks and DDoS attacks to create a more sophisticated assault. To protect your website against these threats, it’s important to create a cybersecurity plan that is designed to safeguard against these attacks in all their various forms.
Teardrop attacks use IP fragmentation to target a vulnerability that is present in some versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system and certain Linux-based systems. When data is sent over the internet, it is divided into smaller units called data packets. These packets are transmitted individually and reassembled at their destination. Sometimes, a large packet may be fragmented into smaller fragments before transmission. Each packet contains a "fragment offset" field in its IP header. This field indicates the position of the fragment within the original, larger packet to help the receiving system to reassemble the fragments in the correct order.
In a teardrop attack, a hacker sends a series of IP packets with deliberately manipulated or overlapping fragment offset fields. When the target system attempts to reassemble the fragmented packets, it may encounter errors due to the manipulated fragment offsets. This can cause the system to crash, become unresponsive, or experience other adverse effects.
DoS attacks such as teardrop attacks can often be challenging to identify and even more challenging to prevent. If you would like to keep your computer systems and web applications from this potentially crippling form of DoS attacks, here are some of the signs, tools, and best practices you need to be aware of.
The first step to preventing teardrop attacks is knowing how to detect them. While there are several tools and techniques that can be used to identify teardrop attacks, knowing the common signs and symptoms of these attacks is key as well.
Some of the common signs that your company is the target of a teardrop attack include:
Along with understanding what a teardrop attack looks like, there are numerous tools and processes you can implement for swift identification of these attacks. A few effective tools and techniques to consider include:
The ability to swiftly detect teardrop attacks is key when it comes to mitigating their damage, but there are also network security measures you can implement to prevent teardrop attacks outright. This includes network security measures such as:
Along with network security solutions, here are some other security solutions that can be helpful for protecting against teardrop attacks:
Once you have identified that your company is the target of a teardrop attack, every second counts. To mitigate the damage that these attacks can potentially cause, it’s vital to have a thorough plan in place ahead of time for how your company will respond.
Best practices for mitigating the impact of teardrop attacks can include things like isolating the affected system, implementing traffic filtering rules to block the attack traffic, and notifying security teams to respond to the incident. You will also want to have a plan in place for how your company will respond to DoS incidents that cover considerations such as communication protocols, business continuity, customer communication and support, and post-incident analysis.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to promote DoS and DDoS awareness and training throughout your organization. Make sure that everyone understands what these attacks are and the role they play in preventing/mitigating them to ensure a seamless and coordinated response to DoS incidents.
DoS and DDoS attacks — in all of their various forms — are a serious security threat for companies of all sizes. Thankfully, these attacks can largely be prevented with the right cybersecurity solutions.
With SiteLock, you get access to a comprehensive suite of security solutions designed to protect your website against cybersecurity threats. From malware removal to web application firewalls (WAFs), SiteLock provides every solution modern businesses need to ensure peace of mind from cyberattacks.
Learn more about SiteLock’s website security plans today to get started safeguarding your website with the most advanced set of security solutions on the market!