Businesses are often the target of cyber attacks, including fork bombs. Fork bomb attacks can consume valuable resources while subsequently harming the performance of the targeted network. As a business owner, you must protect your organization’s network from fork bomb attacks. What is a fork bomb attack exactly, and how does it work?

What Is a Fork Bomb Attack?

A fork bomb attack is a type of denial-of-service (DoS) cyber attack that seeks to consume central processing unit (CPU) time. Also known as a rabbit attack, it involves the use of forking processes. A hacker may target your network with a fork bomb attack to consume your network’s CPU time. This can manifest in the form of slower network speeds, more errors or even complete outages and downtime.

How a Fork Bomb Attack Works

During a fork bomb attack, a hacker will essentially create copies of a program. Fork bomb attacks work by using loops to create a seemingly unlimited number of programs. The fork bomb attack will initially create a copy of the program, after which those copies will replicate themselves as well. This forking process will continue to repeat — all while consuming your network’s CPU time.

While it’s classified as a type of DOS cyber attack, fork bomb attacks don’t involve spamming networks with traffic. When most people think of DOS cyber attacks, they envision network traffic. Traditional DOS cyber attacks leverage devices to spam networks with requests. Fork bomb attacks, on the other hand, leverage forking processes to consume resources, specifically CPU time.

How to Protect Against Fork Bomb Attacks

You can protect against fork bomb attacks by using the Windows operating system (OS). No OS is completely immune to cyber attacks. Fork bomb attacks, though, are limited to Unix and Linux systems. Only Unit and Linux systems support forking. Neither hackers nor anyone else can perform forking processes on Windows systems. Therefore, if you’re worried about fork bomb attacks, you may want to use the Windows OS.

Even if you use Unix or Linux systems, there are still things you can do to protect against fork bomb attacks. Capping the number of processes, for instance, can protect your network from fork bomb attacks. You can use the “limit” parameter to specify a maximum number of processes any given user can execute. Doing so will prevent infinite loops of processes that could otherwise take down your network.