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Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated

Symantec says disclosure poses 'no threat' to the security of its AV products or their customers

Symantec confirmed that a hacking group has gained access to some of the source code of its Norton Antivirus product, but also stated the code was old and not stolen directly from Symantec servers.

An Indian hacking group called the Lords of Dharmaraja has threatened to publicly disclose the source code.

"Symantec can confirm that a segment of its source code has been accessed," a spokesman told the publication InfoSec Island. "Symantec’s own network was not breached, but rather that of a third party entity. We are still gathering information on the details and are not in a position to provide specifics on the third party involved.

"Presently, we have no indication that the code disclosure impacts the functionality or security of Symantec's solutions. Furthermore, there are no indications that customer information has been impacted or exposed at this time."

The security company made a slightly longer statement on its Facebook page:

"Symantec can confirm that a segment of its source code used in two of our older enterprise products has been accessed, one of which has been discontinued. The code involved is four and five years old. This does not affect Symantec's Norton products for our consumer customers. Symantec's own network was not breached, but rather that of a third party entity."

The Facebook statement repeats the spokesman's statement about the limitations of the threat. However, it also makes reference to a "remediation process."

"Symantec is working to develop remediation process to ensure long-term protection for our customers' information," the statement says. "We will communicate that process once the steps have been finalized. Given the early stages of the investigation, we have no further details to disclose at this time but will provide updates as we confirm additional facts."

[From social media abuse to mobile malware to major busts, past year filled with new twists on old scams. See Social Media Abuse, Mobile Malware Headline 2011 Top Internet Security Trends.]

Symantec says it has investigated the claims made by the hacker group, and that data posted in Pastebin was not source code, but documentation dated from April 1999 related to an API used by Norton Antivirus.

The hacking group also shared source code related to the 2006 version of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus product with Infosec Island.

A hacker called "Yama Tough," a spokesman for the gang, posted the content to PasteBin and subsequently published messages on Google+ about the alleged breach. The content on PasteBin has since been removed, and Yama Tough's Google+ posts were deleted, Symantec says.

Although Symantec will not say where the source code came from, experts at the security firm Sophos say it's possible that the code was stolen from government servers after the Indian authorities demanded source code from many software providers.

Mike Lloyd, CTO at RedSeal Networks, says the hack could offer a lesson in protecting enterprise data from third-party breaches.

"The fact that Symantec suffered a breach due to lax protections in someone else's network is a significant wake-up call," Lloyd says. "It is not enough to ensure you follow best practices; in an interconnected world, you have to worry about the security of other organizations. Your business partners and strategic customers may be friendly, but they are not going to expose specifics to you about how well they protect themselves.

"This issue -- needing to understand the risk of a network you cannot see -- has led to standards like PCI, FISMA, and DISA STIGs, which establish agreed, measurable baselines of 'basic hygiene,'" Lloyd observes. "As we steadily lose control of our own critical assets, and as attackers increasingly automate their attacks, we will need more baselines like this so that one organization can show another that it is well-run."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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Latoya
50%
50%
Latoya,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2012 | 9:42:40 PM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
olololol
SecureBPI
50%
50%
SecureBPI,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/10/2012 | 12:10:04 AM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
Source code is valuable to learn architecture, compiler behavior, coding
style & more.

Software modules arenGt discarded; theyGre kept in code libraries. Code reuse
is a given, so a 4-5 yr age may not mean anything.

-

Since itGs installed w/ admin privileges it has access to system
internals. The code knowledge can be used on newer versions to disable/corrupt operation,
own the system or ignore attacker activities & tools. This works very
nicely for Advanced Persistent Threat and 0Day attacks.

-

The updating mechanisms, operation, & delivery systems themselves can
be used to attack other system components.

-

David C. Brown, PMP, CISSP, CEH

Business CyberSecurity, Inc.

www.businesscybersecurity.com
gjones495
50%
50%
gjones495,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2012 | 6:11:03 PM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
If source code is given to a third-party, what was the understanding for it's use and protection? I believe this is a lesson for all of us that share our personal information to begin asking "Why is this information needed? How long will you keep it? How is it protected/disposed of?"

Think about the risk of outsourced transcribing for doctors over the past 10 years, chances are that was done off-shore and maybe without understanding the risks.

It happens to big and small businesses, only too often you never hear about it.

George E. Jones Jr, CISM CRISC CISSP

Intrinsic Security Practitioners
Mya
50%
50%
Mya,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2012 | 11:21:32 AM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
Symantec being an anti-virus company,Couldn't protect its source code??.
MS8699
50%
50%
MS8699,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2012 | 8:56:57 AM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
Symantec can confirm that a segment of its source code used in two of
our older enterprise products has been accessed, one of which has been
discontinued.
-
Georgeken
50%
50%
Georgeken,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/10/2012 | 6:52:06 AM
re: Hackers Claim Breach Of Norton Antivirus Source Code; Experts Say Claims Are Exaggerated
-Nice bits of information,Heard symantec is going to set new research labs.
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