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3.16. Host Size Dependency

To infect applications accurately, many computer viruses have limits on how small or how large the applications they infect can be. For instance, COM files on DOS cannot load if they are larger than a code segment. Consequently, most DOS viruses introduce limits to avoid infecting files that would grow past acceptable limits if the virus code were included in them.

In other cases, viruses such as W95/Zmist use an upper size limitation, such as 400KB, for a file. This enhances the virus infection's reliability by reducing the risks involved in infecting files that are too large. Furthermore, host size dependency also can be used as an antigoat technique (see more details in Chapter 6, "Basic Self-Protection Strategies") to avoid test files that computer virus researchers use.

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