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the Slang prison
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

buffer overflow

A common cause of malfunctioning software. If the amount of data copied into a memory buffer exceeds the size of the buffer, the extra data will overwrite whatever is in the adjacent bytes, and those bytes could hold numbers and codes the program constantly uses (see flag and variable). It only takes an error of one bit to crash software.

Certain copy instructions transfer strings of data within memory until some character such as a null or return is reached, signaling its end. Such instructions are potentially dangerous and can be avoided by using instructions that copy a fixed number of bytes.

Buffer Overruns Are Exploited
If software is written to assume the correct amount of data will always be entered and makes no provisions otherwise, malicious hackers can exploit this situation by entering more and more data until the computer crashes. When it does, the computer's registers are examined to find out the precise location of the crash. The exploit then injects malware code into the system by appending it to the end of the input. See XSS and SQL injection.

Slammer Wreacked Havoc
In January 2003, the Slammer worm on the Internet caused a billion dollars worth of damage. Using randomly generated IP addresses, Slammer used the buffer overflow exploit to replicate itself. Within three minutes after the first Slammer packet was unleashed, the number of infected computers was doubling every eight seconds. Within 15 minutes, large sections of the Internet were overloaded and out of commission. See buffer and buffer flush.
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References in classic literature ?
'Doctor Slammer. He begged me to express his opinion that your conduct of last evening was of a description which no gentleman could endure; and' (he added) 'which no one gentleman would pursue towards another.'
Winkle's astonishment was too real, and too evident, to escape the observation of Doctor Slammer's friend; he therefore proceeded--'My friend, Doctor Slammer, requested me to add, that he was firmly persuaded you were intoxicated during a portion of the evening, and possibly unconscious of the extent of the insult you were guilty of.
'I was not present myself,' replied the visitor, 'and in consequence of your firm refusal to give your card to Doctor Slammer, I was desired by that gentleman to identify the wearer of a very uncommon coat--a bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button displaying a bust, and the letters "P.
Doctor Slammer's friend proceeded:--'From the inquiries I made at the bar, just now, I was convinced that the owner of the coat in question arrived here, with three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon.
'Do you remain long here?' inquired Doctor Slammer of Mr.
'Then, that,' said the man with the camp-stool, 'is an affront to Doctor Slammer, and a sufficient reason for proceeding immediately.'
'It will give me great pleasure, I am sure,' replied Doctor Slammer, little suspecting who Mr.
Doctor Slammer and his friends repaired to the barracks, and Mr.
Slammer's Boxing & Fitness Gym has now opened its doors and will compliment Black Country Boxing's headquarters in Wednesbury and satellite gym in Brownhills.
Joining the participants will be Guest Slammer Lello Voce who launched Poetry Slam in Italy and is considered to be one of the most prominent Europeans of this genre.
Scent Slammer's Ozone Duffle is a great way to store and transport hunting clothes and gear.
Hubby departed hastily when the Lone Rangers went on a law-enforcing spree and picked up a close buddy of his, who's still in the slammer. The case against the buddy is, amongst other things, of aiding and abetting the now out-of-favour Quaid-e-Qiwam.