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Ping is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network and to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer. The name comes from active sonar terminology.

Ping operates by sending Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets to the target host and waiting for an ICMP response. In the process it measures the time from transmission to reception (round-trip time)[1] and records any packet loss. The results of the test are printed in form of a statistical summary of the response packets received, including the minimum, maximum, and the mean round-trip times, and sometimes the standard deviation of the mean.

Ping may be run using various options (command line switches) depending on the implementation that enable special operational modes, such as to specify the packet size used as the probe, automatic repeated operation for sending a specified count of probes, time stamping options, or to perform a ping flood. Flood pinging may be abused as a simple form of denial-of-service attack, in which the attacker overwhelms the victim with ICMP echo request packets.



The ping utility was authored by Mike Muuss in December 1983 as a tool to troubleshoot problems in an IP network. He named it after the sound pulses of active sonar, which also involves sending a signal and measuring the time until any echo is received.[1][2]

The usefulness of ping in assisting the diagnosis of Internet connectivity issues was impaired starting in 2003, when a number of Internet service providers began filtering out ICMP Type 8 (ICMP Echo Request) messages at their network boundaries.[citation needed] This was partly due to the increasing use of ping for target reconnaissance, for example by Internet worms such as Welchia that flood the Internet with ping requests in order to locate new computers to infect. Not only did the availability of ping responses leak information to an attacker, it added to the overall load on networks, causing problems for routers across the Internet.[citation needed]

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