Ancient Fork Bomb Attack Takes Down Linux

Jason Miller says, I wrote up a very simple bourne shell script on my work machine, which runs Mandrake Linux, and executed it under my non-privileged account. Within seconds, the machine was brought to its knees — totally crippled and unusable. I stared at my screen in disbelief for a few moments, totally stunned with what had just happened. After the deer-in-headlights look had left my face, I gave my head a shake and started to question my belief that none of the BSD machines that I administer were susceptible to this truly ancient attack. I’ll admit that I held my breath for a few seconds as I keyed the script into my NetBSD laptop, and then ran it. I was pleasantly surprised when the attack had no effect, confirming that I wasn’t losing my mind after all — limits had been put in place to prevent a normal user from crippling the entire system. Exactly as one would expect. Read more.


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