In mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs), nodes usually cooperate and forward each other's packets in order to enable out of range communication. However, in hostile environments, some nodes may deny to do so, either for saving their own resources or for intentionally disrupting regular communications. This type of misbehavior is generally referred to as packet dropping attack or black hole attack, which is considered as one of the most destructive attacks that leads to the network collapse. The special network characteristics, such as limited battery power and mobility, make the prevention techniques based on cryptographic primitives ineffective to cope with such attack. Rather, a more proactive alternative is required to ensure the safety of the forwarding function by staving off malicious nodes from being involved in routing paths. Once such scheme fails, some economic-based approaches can be adopted to alleviate the attack consequences by motivating the nodes cooperation. As a backup, detection and reaction schemes remain as the final defense line to identify the misbehaving nodes and punish them. In this paper, we make a comprehensive survey investigation on the state-of-the-art countermeasures to deal with the packet dropping attack. Furthermore, we examine the challenges that remain to be tackled by researchers for constructing an in-depth defense against such a sophisticated attack.