Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fork Bomb

The bash fork() bomb
:(){ :|:& };:
This is a bash function. It gets called recursively (recursive function). This is most horrible code for any Unix / Linux box. It is often used by sys admin to test user processes limitations (Linux process limits can be configured via /etc/security/limits.conf and PAM).

Once a successful fork bomb has been activated in a system it may not be possible to resume normal operation without rebooting, as the only solution to a fork bomb is to destroy all instances of it.

Understanding :(){ :|:& };: fork() bomb code

:() - It is a function name. It accepts no arguments at all. Generally, bash function is defined as follows:

echo ''
#do_something on $arg argument

fork() bomb is defined as follows:


:|: - Next it call itself using programming technique called recursion and pipes the output to another call of the function ':'. The worst part is function get called two times to bomb your system.

& - Puts the function call in the background so child cannot die at all and start eating system resources.

; - Terminate the function definition

: - Call (run) the function aka set the fork() bomb.

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