The glossary below contains many of the terms you will find in common use throughout the Symantec Security Response website. Please refer to this list to find definitions of terms and answers to other Internet security-related questions.

buffer overflow

Applications set aside areas of memory, or buffers, for use as storage, frequently setting aside a finite amount of memory for a buffer. A buffer overflow exists when an application attempts to store more data than can fit in a fixed-size buffer. Buffer overflow attacks occur when an intruder is able to send data in excess of a fixed-size application buffer and the application does not check to ensure this doesn’t happen. By overflowing a buffer with executable code, an intruder can cause an application to perform unexpected and often malicious actions using the same privileges the application has been granted.