Payload (computing)

In computing and telecommunications, the payload is the part of transmitted data that is the actual intended message. Headers and metadata are sent only to enable payload delivery.[1][2]

In the context of a computer virus or worm, the payload is the portion of the malware which performs malicious action.

The term is borrowed from transportation, where payload refers to the part of the load that pays for transportation.


In computer security, the payload is the part of the private user text which could also contain malware such as worms or viruses which performs the malicious action; deleting data, sending spam or encrypting data.[3] In addition to the payload, such malware also typically has overhead code aimed at simply spreading itself, or avoiding detection.