Security Experts:

Critical Flaws Expose Symantec Customers to Remote Attacks

Symantec has released updates for more than two dozen of its products to address several critical vulnerabilities that can be exploited by remote hackers for arbitrary code execution.

Google Project Zero researcher Tavis Ormandy revealed last month that he had found several serious flaws in Symantec products. The vendor managed to quickly patch one of the issues, but the rest were not as easy to fix.

Symantec published an advisory on Tuesday to inform customers that all the vulnerabilities found by Ormandy have been resolved. The expert has also published a blog post describing some of the flaws.

The security holes are related to the “decomposer” component of the Symantec Antivirus Engine. The decomposer, which is responsible for unpacking archive files, runs with SYSTEM privileges on Windows and with root privileges on Mac and Linux systems.

The list of issues found by the Google researcher includes memory access violation (CVE-2016-2207 and CVE-2016-3646), buffer overflow (CVE-2016-2209 and CVE-2016-2210), memory corruption (CVE-2016-2211 and CVE-2016-3644), and integer overflow (CVE-2016-3645) vulnerabilities. According to the vendor, a total of 25 Symantec and Norton products are impacted.

“These vulnerabilities are as bad as it gets,” Ormandy said. “They don’t require any user interaction, they affect the default configuration, and the software runs at the highest privilege levels possible. In certain cases on Windows, vulnerable code is even loaded into the kernel, resulting in remote kernel memory corruption.”

The flaws found by the expert can in many cases be exploited remotely simply by getting the targeted user to open a specially crafted file or visit a malicious website.

In addition to finding vulnerabilities in Symantec’s own code, Ormandy also noticed that the company has neglected to update third-party components used in the decomposer. The expert said the security firm had not updated the libmspack and unrarsrc libraries for at least 7 years. Dozens of flaws have been identified in these components over the past years and many of them have public exploits.

Symantec says it’s not aware of any instances where the vulnerabilities found by Ormandy have been exploited in the wild. While most of the issues have been addressed through LiveUpdate and users don’t have to take any action, some of the flaws need to be patched manually.

Over the past months, Ormandy discovered serious vulnerabilities in products from several security firms, including FireEyeTrend Micro, ComodoKaspersky Lab, AVGAvast and others.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.