>In response to my previous post I take it anything good can be used for bad? That does not even sound right. The TCP three-way handshake when used incorrectly, known as the TCP SYN Attack, can render services useless on a particular target system. I like the concise description given on Cicso’s site:
When a normal TCP connection starts, a destination host receives a SYN (synchronize/start) packet from a source host and sends back a SYN ACK (synchronize acknowledge). The destination host must then hear an ACK (acknowledge) of the SYN ACK before the connection is established. This is referred to as the “TCP three-way handshake.”
While waiting for the ACK to the SYN ACK, a connection queue of finite size on the destination host keeps track of connections waiting to be completed. This queue typically empties quickly since the ACK is expected to arrive a few milliseconds after the SYN ACK.
The TCP SYN attack exploits this design by having an attacking source host generate TCP SYN packets with random source addresses toward a victim host. The victim destination host sends a SYN ACK back to the random source address and adds an entry to the connection queue. Since the SYN ACK is destined for an incorrect or non-existent host, the last part of the “three-way handshake” is never completed and the entry remains in the connection queue until a timer expires, typically for about one minute. By generating phony TCP SYN packets from random IP addresses at a rapid rate, it is possible to fill up the connection queue and deny TCP services (such as e-mail, file transfer, or WWW) to legitimate users.