A Google security researcher has found high severity vulnerabilities in enterprise and consumer products from antivirus vendor Symantec that could be easily be exploited by hackers to take control of computers.
Symantec released patches for the affected products, but while some products were updated automatically, some affected enterprise products could require manual intervention.
The flaws were found by Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google’s Project Zero team who has found similar vulnerabilities in antivirus products from other vendors. They highlight the poor state of software security in the antivirus world, something that has been noted by researchers.
Most of the new flaws found by Ormandy are in the Decomposer component of the Symantec antivirus engine. This component handles the parsing of various file formats, including archive files like RAR and ZIP. Furthermore, the Decomposer runs under the system user, the most privileged account on Windows systems.
Symantec didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments on the vulnerabilties.
Security researchers have criticized antivirus vendors many times for performing risky operations like file parsing with unnecessarily elevated privileges. Historically, such operations have been a source of many arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities in all sorts of applications.
Ormandy found vulnerabilities in the Symantec code used to handle ZIP, RAR, LZH, LHA, CAB, MIME, TNEF and PPT files. Most of these flaws can lead to remote code execution and are wormable, meaning they can be used to create computer worms.
“Because Symantec uses a filter driver to intercept all system I/O [input/output operations], just emailing a file to a victim or sending them a link to an exploit is enough to trigger it—the victim does not need to open the file or interact with it in anyway,” Ormandy said in a blog post.
Red more here: www.pcworld.com/article/3089463/security/wormable-flaws-in-symantec-products-expose-millions-of-computers-to-hacking.html