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Symantec: Users Should Disable PCAnywhere Now

Symantec moves into damage-control mode after LulzSec leader tweets the remote-access software may be used to launch exploits.
The source code theft involves more than just the pcAnywhere application, and Symantec Tuesday detailed all products involved. "Our investigation continues to indicate that the theft is limited to only the code for the 2006 versions of Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition; Norton Internet Security; Norton SystemWorks (Norton Utilities and Norton GoBack); and pcAnywhere," according to Symantec.

What exactly could malicious actors do with the source code to pcAnywhere? In a white paper released Tuesday, Symantec detailed the potential risks, which include breaking the encryption or encoding used by the product, which would allow attackers to launch successful man-in-the-middle attacks, through which they could steal a PC user's credentials or session information. In particular, this could allow them to steal the cryptographic key required to remotely connect to the computer. "If the cryptographic key itself is using Active Directory credentials, it is also possible for them to perpetrate other malicious activities on the network," said Symantec.

Similar types of attacks could be launched by insiders or botnets, according to the white paper. In either case, provided that attackers had broken the pcAnywhere encryption, they'd be able to intercept session details or credentials by planting a sniffer in the internal network.

Symantec said the source code stolen in 2006 accounted for approximately 5% of the code found in its Symantec AntiVirus 10.2 product. But it said that users of its 10.x and newer products--aside from pcAnywhere--"should not be in any increased danger of cyber attacks" resulting from the source code theft.

Also on the good-news front, the company said that it now thinks that the source code for Symantec Endpoint Protection 11, released in late 2007, wasn't stolen, as it first suspected. That finding will be a relief for current version 11 users, as well as for Symantec, since the product was the first to contain multiple new types of security technology--also present in its current 12.x product versions--including "heuristic protection, intrusion prevention security, firewall, application control, device control, tamper protection, redesigned core engines, as well as our Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager (SEPM)," according to Symantec.

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