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What is the difference between these three? As I understand it, polymorphic malware code actually is always the same, and it's just that it appears to be different (through encryption, data appending/pre-pending), while in metamorphic malware code the code itself gets different each time it propagates (through adding useless instructions, function reordering, loops etc.)? Am I right about these two?

And how about oligomorphic code? It is like a simpler version of polymorphic code but I don't exactly get it in which way it is simpler, so could someone please explain it a bit more?

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I hope the question fits this SE site.. Btw, I am not trying to create any malware, I am just reading a book about it and I wasn't completely sure if I understood these three concepts well enough. –  pootzko Jun 18 '11 at 9:42
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Polymorphic code: The (same) code takes many forms (like encryptions)
Oligomorphic code: The (same) code takes one of a few predefined forms (and thus can be possibly matched against signatures that can cover all cases)
Metamorphic code: The code mutates, so the code itself is different in each execution (but the functionality the same)

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