Data execution prevention is a feature in most operating systems intended to protect against which type of
Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is a security feature included in modern operating systems. It marks areas of
memory as either “executable” or “nonexecutable”, and allows only data in an “executable” area to be run by
programs, services, device drivers, etc. It is known to be available in Linux, OS X, Microsoft Windows, iOS and
Android operating systems.
DEP protects against some program errors, and helps prevent certain malicious exploits, especially attacks that
store executable instructions in a data area via a buffer overflow.
A buffer overflow occurs when a program or process tries to store more data in a buffer (temporary data
storage area) than it was intended to hold. Since buffers are created to contain a finite amount of data, the extra
information – which has to go somewhere – can overflow into adjacent buffers, corrupting or overwriting the valid
data held in them. Although it may occur accidentally through programming error, buffer overflow is an
increasingly common type of security attack on data integrity. In buffer overflow attacks, the extra data may
contain codes designed to trigger specific actions, in effect sending new instructions to the attacked computer
that could, for example, damage the user’s files, change data, or disclose confidential information. Buffer
overflow attacks are said to have arisen because the C programming language supplied the framework, and
poor programming practices supplied the vulnerability.