Ping (networking utility)
Ping is a computer network administration software 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 and back. The name comes from active sonar terminology which sends a pulse of sound and listens for the echo to detect objects underwater.
Ping operates by sending Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets to the target host and waiting for an ICMP echo reply. It measures the time from transmission to reception (round-trip time) and reports any packet loss.
Options and output vary widely depending on implementation (see
man ping for the system you are using). They frequently include changing the size of the payload, count of tests, and limiting the number of hops (TTL). Many systems provide a companion utility, ping6, for testing using Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). The results of the test usually include a statistical summary of the response packets received, including the minimum, maximum, and the mean round-trip times, and standard deviation of the mean.
The ping utility was authored by Mike Muuss in December 1983 as a tool to troubleshoot problems in an IP network. He was inspired by a remark by David Mills on using ICMP echo packets for IP network diagnosis and measurements. The author named it after the sound that sonar makes, since its methodology is similar to sonar's echo location.
Sample ping test
The following is the output of running ping under Linux with www.example.com as the target:
$ ping www.example.com PING www.example.com (22.214.171.124): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=0 ttl=56 time=11.632 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=11.726 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=10.683 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=3 ttl=56 time=9.674 ms --- www.example.com ping statistics --- 4 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 0.0% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 9.674/10.929/11.726/0.831 ms
|Bits 0–7||Bits 8–15||Bits 16–23||Bits 24–31|
| IP Header
|Version/IHL||Type of service||Length|
|Identification||flags and offset|
|Time To Live (TTL)||Protocol||Checksum|
|Source IP address|
|Destination IP address|
| ICMP Header
|Type of message||Code||Checksum|
| ICMP Payload
Generic composition of an ICMP 32-byte packet:
- IP Header (in blue):
- Protocol set to 1 (ICMP) and Type of Service set to 0.
- ICMP Header (in red):
- Type of ICMP message (8 bits)
- Code (8 bits)
- Checksum (16 bits), calculated with the ICMP part of the packet (the IP header is not used). It is the 16-bit one's complement of the one's complement sum of the ICMP message starting with the Type field
- Header Data (32 bits) field, which in this case (ICMP echo request and replies), will be composed of identifier (16 bits) and sequence number (16 bits).
- ICMP Payload
The echo request ("ping") is an ICMP message whose data is expected to be received back in an echo reply. The host must respond to all echo requests with an echo reply containing the exact data received in the request message.
|Type = 8||Code = 0||Header Checksum|
- The Identifier and Sequence Number can be used by the client to match the reply with the request that caused the reply. In practice, most Linux systems use a unique identifier for every ping process, and sequence number is an increasing number within that process. Windows uses a fixed identifier, which varies between Windows versions, and a sequence number that is only reset at boot time.
- The data received in the Echo Request must be entirely included in the Echo Reply.
The echo reply is an ICMP message generated in response to an echo request, and is mandatory for all hosts and routers.
|Type = 0||Code = 0||Header Checksum|
- Type and code must be set to 0.
- The identifier and sequence number can be used by the client to determine which echo requests are associated with the echo replies.
- The data received in the echo request must be entirely included in the echo reply.
Possible reply messages include the following:
- H, !N, or !PTemplate:Spaced ndash host, network or protocol unreachable
- STemplate:Spaced ndash source route failed
- FTemplate:Spaced ndash fragmentation needed
- U or !WTemplate:Spaced ndash destination network/host unknown
- ITemplate:Spaced ndash source host is isolated
- ATemplate:Spaced ndash communication with destination network administratively prohibited
- ZTemplate:Spaced ndash communication with destination host administratively prohibited
- QTemplate:Spaced ndash for this ToS the destination network is unreachable
- TTemplate:Spaced ndash for this ToS the destination host is unreachable
- XTemplate:Spaced ndash communication administratively prohibited
- VTemplate:Spaced ndash host precedence violation
- CTemplate:Spaced ndash precedence cutoff in effect.
In case of error, destination host or intermediate router will send back an ICMP error message, For example: "host unreachable" or "TTL exceeded in transit". In addition, these messages include the first eight bytes of the original message (in this case header of the ICMP echo request, including the quench value), so ping utility can match responses to originating queries.
16:24:47.966461 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 128, id 15103, offset 0, flags [none], proto: ICMP (1), length: 60) 192.168.146.22 > 192.168.144.5: ICMP echo request, id 1, seq 38, length 40 0x0000: 4500 003c 3aff 0000 8001 5c55 c0a8 9216 E..<:.....\U.... 0x0010: c0a8 9005 0800 4d35 0001 0026 6162 6364 ......M5...&abcd 0x0020: 6566 6768 696a 6b6c 6d6e 6f70 7172 7374 efghijklmnopqrst 0x0030: 7576 7761 6263 6465 6667 6869 uvwabcdefghi
The payload includes a timestamp of when the message was sent and a sequence number. This allows ping to compute the round trip time in a stateless manner without needing to record when packets were sent. In cases of no answer and no error message, most implementations of ping display nothing, or periodically print notifications about timing out.
Ping is considered a security risk by some and therefore may be ignored by A simple denial-of-service attack may be attempted in the form of a ping flood, in which the attacker attempts to overwhelm the victim with ICMP echo requests.
- Mike Muuss. "The Story of the PING Program". Adelphi, MD, USA: U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
I named it after the sound that a sonar makes, inspired by the whole principle of echo-location.
- "The Story of the PING Program", Mike Muuss
- Salus, Peter (1994). A Quarter Century of UNIX. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-54777-5.
- "RFC 1122 - Requirements for Internet Hosts -- Communication Layers". p. 42. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
Every host MUST implement an ICMP Echo server function that receives Echo Requests and sends corresponding Echo Replies.
- "RFC 792 - Internet Control Message Protocol". Tools.ietf.org. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
- "RFC Sourcebook's page on ICMP". Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- "ICMP: Internet Control Message Protocol". repo.hackerzvoice.net. January 13, 2000. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
- "Shields Up, Firewall Test". Retrieved 4 June 2010.
[text shown if your computer replies to ping requests] "Ping" is among the oldest and most common methods used to locate systems prior to further exploitation.