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Setting Regex Timeout Globally Using .NET 6.0 With C#

.NET 6.0 allows the global regular expression (regex) timeout to be configured. By default, the global timeout is Regex.InfiniteMatchTimeout and regex operations will run until completion.

If a timeout is exceeded System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexMatchTimeoutException will be thrown.

Setting the global regex timeout

This will set the default regex timeout to 2 seconds:

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// https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/api/system.text.regularexpressions.regex.matchtimeout?view=net-6.0#remarks
AppDomain.CurrentDomain.SetData("REGEX_DEFAULT_MATCH_TIMEOUT", TimeSpan.FromSeconds(2));

This needs to happen as early as possible (first statement in Main would work), prior to any usage of Regex that causes this value to be read and cached. Once it’s cached it cannot be changed without restarting the application. (see Runtime implementation below)

We can verify it’s working via:

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var regexDefaultMatchTimeout = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.GetData("REGEX_DEFAULT_MATCH_TIMEOUT") as TimeSpan?;
if (regexDefaultMatchTimeout != null)
{
    var regexMatchTimeout = new Regex("abc").MatchTimeout;
    if (regexDefaultMatchTimeout != regexMatchTimeout)
    {
        throw new ApplicationException("MatchTimeout is not set from REGEX_DEFAULT_MATCH_TIMEOUT.");
    }
}

Console.WriteLine(regexDefaultMatchTimeout);

Why set a global timeout?

Regular expressions could be used by an attacker to launch a denial-of-service attack for a website by consuming excessive resources. Setting a timeout allows the operation to stop at a configured timeout, rather than running until completion, using resources the entire time.

Application code / library code

If you’re writing application code be careful with negatively impacting dependencies via a regex timeout.


If you’re writing library code to be used by other applications and want a specific regex timeout it should probably be handled internally by manually specifying the timeout values for each regex call, rather than using a default value.

Example:

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Regex.IsMatch("abc", "a", RegexOptions.None, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(5));

Runtime implementation

Here’s the .NET 6.0 implementation: https://github.com/dotnet/runtime/blob/release/6.0/src/libraries/System.Text.RegularExpressions/src/System/Text/RegularExpressions/Regex.Timeout.cs#L31

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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