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 * ["Detect duplicate IP address configuration."] Default TRUE

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)

The Address Resolution Protocol is used to dynamically discover the mapping between a layer 3 (protocol) and a layer 2 (hardware) address. A typical use is the mapping of an ["IP"] address (e.g. to the underlying ["Ethernet"] address (e.g. 01:02:03:04:05:06). You will often see ARP packets at the beginning of a conversation, as ARP is the way these addresses are discovered.

ARP can be used for Ethernet and other LANs, ATM, and a lot of other underlying physical addresses (the list of hardware types in the [ ADDRESS RESOLUTION PROTOCOL PARAMETERS] document at the ["IANA"] Web site includes at least 33 hardware types).

ARP is used to dynamically build and maintain a mapping database between link local layer 2 addresses and layer 3 addresses. In the common case this table is for mapping Ethernet to IP addresses. This database is called the ["ARP Table"]. Dynamic entries in this table are often cached with a timeout of up to 15 minutes, which means that once a host has ARPed for an IP address it will remember this for the next 15 minutes before it gets time to ARP for that address again.

A peculiarity of ARP is that since it tries to reduce/limit the amount of network traffic used for ARP a host MUST use all available information in any ARP packet that is received to update its ["ARP Table"] with. Sometimes a host thus sends out ARP packets, NOT in order to discover a mapping but to use this side effect of ARP and preload the ARP table of a different host with an entry. These special ARP packets are refered to as ["Gratuitous ARP"]s and Wireshark will detect and flag the most common versions of such ARPs in the packet summary pane.

["Gratuitous ARP"]s are more important than one would normally suspect when analyzing captures. So dont just ingore them or filter out ARP from your capture immediately. Consider that a normal host will always send out a ["Gratuitous ARP"] the first thing it does after the link goes up or the interface gets enabled, which means that almost everytime we see a ["Gratuitous ARP"] on the network, that host that sent it has just had a link bounce or had its interface disabled/enabled. This is very useful information when troubleshooting networks. Remember though that you can only see these ["Gratuitous ARP"]s or any other ARPs for that matter if your capture device is in the same ["Broadcast Domain"] as the host that originates the ARP packet.

Several viruses send a lot of ARP traffic in an attempt to discover hosts to infect; see the ArpFlooding page.


[ RFC 826] "An Ethernet Address Resolution Protocol" was released in November 1982.

Protocol dependencies

Layer 2 protocols:

  • ["ATM"]: ARP can use ["ATM"] as its transport mechanism.
  • ["Ethernet"]: ARP can use ["Ethernet"] as its transport mechanism. The assigned Ethernet type for ARP traffic is 0x0806.
  • Other LANs: ARP can also be used on Token Ring, FDDI, and IEEE 802.11; the same assigned type is used.
  • ... and a lot more!

Layer 3 protocols:

  • ["IP"]: ARP can map ["IP"] addresses to layer 2 addresses.

Example traffic

XXX - Add example traffic here (as plain text or Wireshark screenshot).


The ARP dissector is fully functional.

Preference Settings

  • ["Detect ARP request storms."] Default OFF
  • ["Number of requests to detect during period."] Default 30
  • ["Detection period (in ms)."] Default 100
  • ["Detect duplicate IP address configuration."] Default TRUE

Example capture file

  • attachment:SampleCaptures/arp-storm.pcap Problem with example capture file. No responses were included.

Display Filter

A complete list of ARP display filter fields can be found in the [ display filter reference]

  • Show only the ARP based traffic:


Filtering only on ARP packets is rarely used, as you won't see any IP or other packets. However, it can be useful as part of a larger filter string.

Capture Filter

You can filter ARP protocols while capturing.

  • Capture only the ARP based traffic:



     ether proto \arp 

Capturing only ARP packets is rarely used, as you won't capture any IP or other packets. However, it can be useful as part of a larger filter string.


At which event is an entry in the ARP table removed/replaced, if the host detects problems sending packets to the entries host? I would think it doesn't take 15 minutes in that case. - Ulf Lamping

Could someone explain ARP flooding and other attack's to the ARP layer to capture packets not dedicated to the capturing host? - Ulf Lamping

AddressResolutionProtocol (last edited 2011-05-14 18:56:51 by JefersonCassol)