Zip bomb revisited

The upcoming 0.9.2 release of the Profiler removes the virtual memory constraint, meaning that it is now able to open and process files of any size (the hex editor can edit large files as well). This feature has actually been in the TODO list from day 1 and I’ll write about the internals of it in some other post, in order to better demonstrate the capabilities gained by these changes to the core.

Also, because of the increased functionality, it made sense to add detection for Zip (decompression) bombs. Almost a year ago we’ve talked about Zip bombs, but it was limited to the safe exploration of such files. Let’s start with the new ‘Limits’ page in the setup.


  • What had been once the maximum size of a file is now the size of virtual memory the memory pool is allowed to use. Of course, the more virtual memory is granted, the faster it becomes to analyze large files. But it’s only a matter of speed, you can choose to give to the pool the bare minimum, it’ll work just as well.
  • The nesting option shouldn’t need any explanation since it hasn’t changed. But just for completeness: it specifies the maximum level of scanning into a root object. If more levels are available, it is signaled. For instance, level 0 specifies that children objects should not be scanned automatically (though they might still be opened manually by the user).
  • The maximum file size can be used to discard files larger than the specified size during batch scan operations. The default is 0, which stands for infinite.
  • The decompression bomb threshold is the limit we’re interested in for this post. It represents a cumulative size which can’t be exceeded. In other words if an archive contains 1 file of 100+ GBs (let’s use this number for the purpose of this example) it’s the same as whether one sub-archive contains 100 files of 1 GB each (plus a single byte in excess). If the threshold is exceeded, it will be reported as a threat. While 100 GBs is the default, you can speed up scanning by specifying a lower limit.
  • The maximum number of children files is cumulative as well. This constraint depends on virtual memory limitations (as all children are shown in a tree). 100.000 (the default) is a safe choice. If more children than the imposed limit are present, it is signaled.

So let’s again take the famous as an example of Zip bomb and let’s scan it. We’ll get this in the summary:

Decompression bomb threat

Please note that the threat may not be reported in the summary of the root object itself, but in one of its children objects (once the bomb threshold has indeed been exceeded). But since we know there’s a threat (as reported by the risk factor) we can just jump to it by pressing F2 in the hierarchy view.