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Guerrilla Storage

If you find a few megabytes of data in your buffers that don't belong to you, beware: You may have been infected by a storage-hungry parasite.

In its blog this week,
Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) is warning users of an exploit called "parasitic storage," in which hackers store small amounts of data on hundreds of machines.

"A tiny bit of RAM on a large number of computers can be used to store secret data that an attacker wants to hide, while a lot of information can be stored on some servers at the risk of being found and removed," Symantec says.

The concept of parasitic storage is not new, and by itself it creates very little problem for users, since the storage load is usually diffused across the network in buffers or in transit, notes Javier Santoyo, manager of development at Symantec.

"But a problem may come if the data stored in the buffers is a trigger for malware on a machine," Santoyo says. "We haven't seen it yet, but there is a potential."

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