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explain like I’m 5: buffer overflow

Imagine you have a small box that can hold 10 apples. This box is designed to hold only up to 10 apples, and no more. But let’s say you try to force more apples into this box – like 15 or 20. The box can’t hold these extra apples, so they spill out, potentially messing up the surrounding area.

In computer terms, this box is like a ‘buffer’, a small amount of memory that a program sets aside to hold data. The apples are like the data itself.

A buffer overflow is what happens when the program tries to put too much data into this buffer – like trying to put too many apples in the box. The extra data can spill out and mess up other parts of the program’s memory. This can cause the program to behave unpredictably, crash, or in some cases, even allow an attacker to take control of the program.