Icmp (Internet Control Message Protocol)

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  • Topic: Internet Control Message Protocol, IPv4, IP address
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  • Published : September 24, 2012
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The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is one of the core protocols of the Internet Protocol Suite. It is chiefly used by the operating systems of networked computers to send error messages indicating, for example, that a requested service is not available or that a host or router could not be reached. ICMP can also be used to relay query messages. It is assigned protocol number 1. ICMP differs from transport protocols such as TCP and UDP in that it is not typically used to exchange data between systems, nor is it regularly employed by end-user network applications (with the exception of some diagnostic tools like ping and traceroute). ICMP for Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is also known as ICMPv4. IPv6 has a similar protocol, ICMPv6. Internet Control Message Protocol is part of the Internet Protocol Suite as defined in RFC 792. ICMP messages are typically generated in response to errors in IP datagrams (as specified in RFC 1122) or for diagnostic or routing purposes. ICMP errors are always reported to the original source IP address of the originating datagram. An example ICMP error message is the Time to Live Exceeded message. Every machine (such as an intermediate router) that forwards an IP datagram has to decrement the time to live (TTL) field of the IP header by one. If the TTL reaches 0, an ICMP Time to live exceeded message is sent to the source of the datagram. Each ICMP message is encapsulated directly within a single IP datagram, and thus, like UDP, ICMP is unreliable. Although ICMP messages are contained within standard IP datagrams, ICMP messages are usually processed as a special case, distinguished from normal IP processing, rather than processed as a normal sub-protocol of IP. In many cases, it is necessary to inspect the contents of the ICMP message and deliver the appropriate error message to the application that generated the original IP packet, the one that prompted the sending of the ICMP message. Many commonly-used network utilities are based on ICMP messages. The tracert (traceroute), Pathping commands are implemented by transmitting UDP datagrams with specially set IP TTL header fields, and looking for ICMP Time to live exceeded in transit (above) and "Destination unreachable" messages generated in response. The related ping utility is implemented using the ICMP "Echo request" and "Echo reply" messages.

ICMP segment structure

Header
The ICMP header starts after the IPv4 header. All ICMP packets will have an 8-byte header and variable-sized data section. The first 4 bytes of the header will be consistent. The first byte is for the ICMP type. The second byte is for the ICMP code. The third and fourth bytes are a checksum of the entire ICMP message. The contents of the remaining 4 bytes of the header will vary based on the ICMP type and code. ICMP error messages contain a data section that includes the entire IP header plus the first 8 bytes of data from the IP datagram that caused the error message. The ICMP datagram is then encapsulated in a new IP datagram.

0–7| 8–15| 16–23| 24–31|
Type| Code| Checksum|
Rest of Header|
* Type – ICMP type as specified below.
* Code – Subtype to the given type.
* Checksum – Error checking data. Calculated from the ICMP header + data, with value 0 for this field. The algorithm is the same as the header checksum for IPv4. * Rest of Header – Four byte field. Will vary based on the ICMP type and code.

Padding data
Padding data follows the ICMP header (in octets):
* Windows "ping.exe" adds, by default, 32 bytes of padding * The Linux "ping" utility adds, by default, 56 bytes of padding Message types and codes
With IPv4, there are different message types within ICMP. The message type identifies what sort of ICMP message it is. Each ICMP message type also has a message code, which lets you know the exact meaning. So an ICMP packet with a message type 3 (Destination Unreachable) and a message code 3 (Port...
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