Security Experts:

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Found in Symantec Endpoint Protection

While conducting penetration testing for one of its customers, Offensive Security uncovered three zero-day vulnerabilities in Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) that can be exploited for privilege escalation.

Offensive Security, which is known for the Kali Linux penetration testing distribution, published a video to demonstrate one of the privilege escalation exploits and promised to provide additional details in the upcoming days.

Mati Aharoni, CEO of Offensive Security, says they have found a total of three zero-days in their initial analysis, two of which they've managed to exploit successfully. The vulnerabilities, all of which are local, have been reported to CERT, which in turn notified Symantec, Aharoni told SecurityWeek. The issues will also be reviewed at the company's Advanced Windows Exploitation (AWE) course at the Black Hat security conference.

Symantec Endpoint Protection Zero-DaySymantec says the zero-day presented in the video affects all versions of Endpoint Protection clients 11.x and 12.x running Application and Device Control. Endpoint Protection Manager, Symantec Endpoint Protection SBE, SEP.cloud and Symantec Network Access Control are not impacted by the flaw.

The security firm has rated the vulnerability as "medium severity," but claims to be handling it "with the utmost urgency and care." There's no evidence that the flaw is being exploited in the wild, Symantec noted.

"The issue, as reported, affects the Application and Device Control component of Symantec Endpoint Protection. This vulnerability is not accessible remotely and only affects SEP clients actually running Application and Device Control. If the vulnerability is exploited by accessing the machine directly, it could result in a client crash, denial of service, or, if successful, escalate to admin privileges and gain control of the system," Symantec explained in its advisory.

While the company finds a way to address the problem, users of Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 are advised to uninstall or disable the Application and Device Control (sysplant) driver. Customers who use version 11.x can protect themselves by disabling the Application and Device Control policy.

"There is some irony in the fact that there are Zero Day vulnerabilities in the software that a large portion of users count on to protect their computer from malware and software vulnerabilities," commented Rick Wanner, a handler at the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center. "The fact is that software development is hard and even security software is not immune from exploitable vulnerabilities. If there is a bright side, it appears that there are no exploits in the wild yet and that local access to the machine is required to exploit these vulnerabilities."

Symantec's endpoint security product is not the only one that's plagued by security flaws. Earlier this month at the SyScan 360 conference in Beijing, a researcher reported finding locally and remotely exploitable flaws in 14 popular antivirus engines.

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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.