Symantec updated its Antivirus Engine (AVE) to address a critical memory corruption vulnerability.
The flaw (CVE-2016-2208) results from how the Symantec AVE parses executable files packed by the ASPack executable file compressor.
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Symantec and Norton products suffer from the issue, including Symantec Endpoint Antivirus, Norton Antivirus, Symantec Email Security and Symantec Scan Engine.
The vulnerability can end up remotely exploited for code execution by sending a specially crafted file to the victim — either via email or by sending them a link pointing to the file. Google Project Zero researcher Tavis Ormandy, who discovered the flaw, developed a proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit which he released after Symantec patched the issue.
“On Linux, Mac and other UNIX platforms, this results in a remote heap overflow as root in the Symantec or Norton process. On Windows, this results in kernel memory corruption, as the scan engine is loaded into the kernel (wtf!!!), making this a remote ring0 memory corruption vulnerability – this is about as bad as it can possibly get,” Ormandy said in a blog post.
Symantec said the code executed at kernel level with root privileges causes a memory access violation, which in most cases results in an immediate system crash.
No interaction ends up required to trigger the exploit. In fact, when Ormandy sent his PoC to Symantec, the security firm’s mail server crashed after its product unpacked the file.
Ormandy reported this and other critical remote code execution vulnerabilities to Symantec in late April.