Crash a Browser with a Script – Fork Bombing Explained

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Fork bombing is similar to causing a memory leak with a script recursively calling itself––instead of doing recursive operations, you make copies of (fork) the process every iteration until you exhaust the system’s memory, causing a Denial of Service attack.

The infamous :(){ :|: & };: bash script is an example of a fork bomb on Linux machines.

Disclaimer: Don’t try it on your primary machine. You will suffer! Use a VM or a sandbox computer to do all this.

Crash a browser with JavaScript

Browsers are vulnerable to DoS in a lot of ways. You can write a simple script that recursively creates a pop-up box or create DOM elements until it eventually consumes all the memory and crashes.

while (true) { alert("hello evil world!"); }

Modern browsers have preventive measures for erratic scripts like this and offer you the option to terminate them. But if you are serious about forcing a memory leak in your browser (and eventually your system) you can flood your history using the `history.pushState` API in a recursive loop and watch your system sputter out and writhe in pain. Or, you can recursively spawn processes the same way to create a fork bomb.

Force a memory leak on windows with a fork bomb

Like the :(){ :|: & };: on bash, you can (don’t!) use %0|%0 in a batch file and execute it. This will recursively call the process and cause a kernel hang with no options to access the task manager.

This post was first published on August 7, 2014.

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Karthikeyan KC

Aeronautical engineer, dev, science fiction author, gamer, and an explorer. I am the creator of Geekswipe. I love writing about physics and astronomy. I am now creating Swyde.

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2 Responses

  1. Did not know I can do this on Windows! Thanks.

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