Definition of ANSI Bomb

ANSI Bomb refers to a malicious piece of code or sequence of commands, hidden within an ANSI file or terminal output, which is designed to exploit the vulnerabilities in the systems that use ANSI codes. These codes are used to control the color and formatting of the text displayed on the screen. ANSI Bombs can lead to system crashes, data corruption, or unauthorized access to sensitive information.


The phonetic pronunciation of “ANSI Bomb” is “ænsi bɒm”:- ANSI: /ˈænsi/ (“An” as in “ant” and “si” as in “see”)- Bomb: /bɒm/ (rhymes with “tomb”)

Key Takeaways

  1. ANSI Bomb is a type of harmware that abuses ANSI escape sequences to alter a victim’s terminal or crash the system.
  2. It originated in the early days of internet and was mainly spread through bulletin board systems (BBS) as it targeted users of terminal emulators like MS-DOS and Windows.
  3. Modern terminal emulators and operating systems have addressed most of the vulnerabilities of ANSI bomb, but it’s still crucial to practice precaution by avoiding opening suspicious files or visiting untrusted sources online.

Importance of ANSI Bomb

ANSI Bomb is an important technology term because it refers to a malicious piece of code hidden within ANSI files (American National Standards Institute) which are used for representing text and characters in computing systems.

When a user opens an infected file, the ANSI Bomb code is executed, often resulting in unwanted consequences, such as computer system crashes or compromised security.

This type of cyber attack highlights the significance of being cautious while dealing with unfamiliar files, as well as enforcing robust security measures to protect against potential threats.

Understanding the concept of ANSI Bomb and staying aware of such security risks are key to maintaining the integrity and safety of computer systems and data in today’s digitally interconnected world.


The ANSI Bomb is a term that refers to an unwelcome or malicious implementation of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) escape codes, which were originally designed to help users control the visual formatting and layout of text on command-line interfaces. An ANSI Bomb is intended to disrupt the normal functioning of the targeted system or software by exploiting the visual and interactive capabilities provided by these codes.

The main purpose of this malicious act is to compromise the user experience, impair system operations, or even cause critical errors that can lead to data loss or security breaches. Although ANSI Bombs are not as prevalent or damaging as other forms of digital attacks like viruses, Trojans, or ransomware, they still pose a threat to systems that support ANSI codes.

Sudden display changes, unusual formatting, or altered command-line prompts are some of the issues that arise when a system is impacted by an ANSI Bomb. Cybercriminals may use these disruptions to mask broader intrusions, create distractions, or deceive users into revealing sensitive information.

To protect against the negative effects of ANSI Bombs, it is crucial for software developers to anticipate possible exploits and implement appropriate safeguards, while users must remain cautious when interacting with unfamiliar or untrusted sources.

Examples of ANSI Bomb

The term “ANSI bomb” refers to a form of code exploit that targets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) escape sequences. These sequences are used to provide formatting instructions for text terminals or files, such as altering colors or cursor positions. While ANSI bombs are not as common now due to modern systems having more robust safeguards and Unicode replacing much of the need for ANSI codes, their impact can still be felt in earlier software and systems. Here are three real-world examples of ANSI bomb incidents:

BBS Exploits in the 1990s: In the early days of the internet, bulletin board systems (BBS) were popular platforms for communication and file sharing. An ANSI bomb could be embedded within a file that contained a sequence of ANSI codes, which could alter the user’s computer settings, making the system unusable. These exploits were relatively common, with users downloading malicious files that contained ANSI bomb exploits that would affect their system once opened.

Game Hacking: Some early video games relied on ANSI codes for rendering text-based UI elements. Hackers could use ANSI bombs to interfere with the proper rendering of these elements by embedding escape sequences in user-generated content within the game. This could disrupt the gaming experience or even cause crashes in severe cases.

Malicious ANSI Art: In the early days of computers, ANSI art was a popular way to create text-based graphics using ANSI codes. Some artists would create malicious ANSI art that contained ANSI bomb sequences. When unsuspecting users viewed the art on their systems, the ANSI bomb would execute and potentially cause system instability or altered settings.While today’s modern systems have largely mitigated the risk and impact of ANSI bombs, understanding their historical significance can serve as a reminder of the importance of proper security measures and the potential dangers that can come from seemingly innocuous content.


1. What is an ANSI Bomb?

An ANSI Bomb is a malicious piece of code or sequence of characters that exploits the ANSI escape sequences in a victim’s terminal or text editor. It can cause unexpected behavior and potentially harm the system, such as changing text, colors, or even executing commands without the user’s consent.

2. How does an ANSI Bomb work?

An ANSI Bomb relies on ANSI escape sequences, which are special codes that tell a terminal or text editor how to display text, including its color, style, or position. When an ANSI Bomb is executed, it sends carefully crafted escape sequences to manipulate the terminal or editor in unintended ways, often causing harm to the system or user experience.

3. How can I protect myself from ANSI Bombs?

To protect yourself from ANSI Bombs, always be cautious of files or text from untrusted sources. You can disable ANSI escape sequences in your terminal or text editor or use a sandboxed environment to view suspicious files. Additionally, keeping your software up-to-date and using security software can help minimize the risks.

4. Are ANSI Bombs dangerous to my system?

While not all ANSI Bombs may be harmful, they can still cause unintended behavior and potential damage to your system. They can alter text, colors, or even execute unauthorized commands, which may lead to loss of data or system integrity. It’s essential to handle suspicious files and code with caution to minimize potential harm.

5. What are some examples of ANSI Bombs?

Examples of ANSI Bombs include text that hides itself within a terminal, causing the terminal window to resize or change its color unexpectedly, or even a string of characters that, when pasted into a terminal window, could execute harmful system commands without the user’s authorization.

Related Technology Terms

  • ASCII Art
  • ANSI Escape Code
  • 3

  • 4

  • Text-based User Interface
  • 5

  • Code Injection

Sources for More Information

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