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Unwitting Collaborators, Part 5: System and Application Vulnerabilities

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We're all familiar with the threat of electronic viruses. But other malicious software can exploit invisible security holes in your network, applications, and even web browsers. Learn how to plug those gaps.
Read the introduction to this article series.
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Introduction

The less-than-humorous aphorism of the IT industry is that the final user is the beta test site. Unfortunately, that has been very true—and still is.

Some vendors have been less than diligent when coding their products, and correct the problems after the fact. Once bugs in their code are found—most often by users—manufacturers and vendors then create an advisory and provide patches for the found bugs. Most times, these code flaws are merely inconveniences to users. But sometimes they're far worse, allowing an unauthorized person to execute arbitrary code to gain access to a system or damage it using a code flaw known as a buffer overrun or buffer overflow. (Among the hacking community it's called smashing the stack.)

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