Staying Safe from the Zip Bomb Threat

Before we dive into explaining the technical details, you‘re probably wondering – just what is a zip bomb, and do I really need to worry about them? In short, yes – zip bombs pose a real cyberattack threat that everyone should understand.

What Are Zip Bombs?

Zip bombs are a type of malicious attack file that hide in small packages, but unleash massive destructive forces onto target computer systems.

You might receive a zip bomb bundled alongside a friendly email…click to open it up, see some files inside, and think nothing seems wrong. But the moment you extract or preview those files, it triggers an explosion of carefully engineered ‘junk‘ data that rapidly fills all available storage space on your computer.

In just seconds or minutes, this flood of data overwhelms your hard drive capacity and crashes critical system processes. The computer freezes entirely, unable to handle the cascading data overload…you‘re left with no choice but to hit the reset button and pray nothing was damaged.

This is the devastating potential of the zip bomb.

Why You Should Take Them Seriously

Zip bombs pose a real threat to home users and massive corporations alike for several reasons:

They‘re Small and Deceptive – Password protected zip files attached to emails can conceal zip bombs effectively. You might not think twice before clicking.

Difficult to Detect – Non-recursive zip bombs in particular unfold too rapidly for anti-virus tools to react. Zero-day exploits also evade detection.

They Brick Devices – A single small file can crash servers and corrupt file systems, destroying data and productivity.

Enable Hacker Access – Zip bombs can be the first phase to ‘soften up‘ targets during a coordinated attack, allowing hackers to slip in.

Cross Platform – Windows, Linux, macOS, NAS devices…anything relying on storage and memory is vulnerable.

A well-crafted zip bomb in the wrong hands presents a serious cyber threat limited only by the attacker‘s imagination. Now that you understand the basics, let‘s explore how they actually work…

The Technical Inner Workings

Zip bombs achieve their destructive goals through a clever application of compression algorithms…

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