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The SYN[chronize] flag is the TCP packet flag that is used to initiate a TCP connection. A packet containing solely a SYN flag is the first part of the "three-way handshake" of TCP connection initiation. It is responded to with a SYN-ACK packet.
Packets setting the SYN flag can also be used to perform a SYN flood and a SYN scan.
 
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