In security, a signature is a specific pattern that allows cybersecurity technologies to recognize malicious threats, such as a byte sequence in network traffic or known malicious instruction sequences used by families of malware. Signatures enable antivirus vendors to detect known threats, but they cannot be used to detect unknown or new threats.

Signature-based detection, then, is a methodology used by many cybersecurity companies to detect malware that has already been discovered in the wild and cataloged as part of a database.

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