In computing, an exploit is an attack on a computer system, especially one that takes advantage of a particular vulnerability that the system offers to intruders. Used as a verb, the term refers to the act of successfully making such an attack.
Many crackers (or hackers, if you prefer that term) take pride in keeping tabs of such exploits and post their exploits (and discovered vulnerabilities) on a Web site to share with others.
Where an exploit takes advantage of a weakness in an operating system or vended application program, the owners of the system or application issue a "fix" or patch in response. Users of the system or application are responsible for obtaining the patch, which can usually be downloaded from the Web. Failure to install a patch for a given problem exposes the user to a security breach. (However, it can be difficult to keep up with all the required patches.)
This was first published in July 2001