Symantec: Hackers got Some Code

Monday, January 9, 2012 @ 04:01 PM gHale


Symantec confirmed source code used in two of its older enterprise security products suffered public exposure by hackers.

The compromised code is between four and five years old and does not affect Symantec’s consumer-oriented Norton products, the company said in a statement.

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“Our own network was not breached, but rather that of a third party entity,” the company said. “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,” the statement said.

Symantec spokesman Cris Paden identified the two affected products as Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 and Symantec Antivirus 10.2. Both products target enterprise customers and are more than five years old, Paden said.

“We’re taking this extremely seriously, but in terms of a threat, a lot has changed since these codes were developed,” Paden said. “We distributed 10 million new signatures in 2010 alone. That gives you an idea of how much these products have morphed since then, when you’re talking four and five years.”

Symantec is developing a remediation process for enterprise customers who are still using the affected products, Paden said. Details of the remediation process will be available when they are ready to go, he added.

An Indian hacking group calling itself Lords of Dharmaraja had earlier claimed it had accessed source code for Symantec’s Norton AV products.

A member of the group using the handle “Yama Tough” initially posted several documents on Pastebin and Google+ they claimed were proof the group gained access to Symantec’s source code.

One of the documents described an application programming interface (API) for Symantec’s AV product. Another listed the complete source code tree file for Norton Antivirus. Two documents on Google+ offered detailed technical overviews of Norton Anti-Virus, Quarantine Server Packaging API Specification, v1.0, and a Symantec Immune System Gateway Array Setup technology.

According to Symantec, the initial set of documents posted by the hacking group was not source code. Rather, it was information from a publicly available document from April 1999 defining the API for something called the Definition Generation Service. The document explained how the software should work, but no actual source code was in it, Symantec said.

A second set of documents posted by the group, however, did contain segments of Symantec source code for the two enterprise security products, Paden said.

Comments posted by Yama Tough on Google+ and Pastebin suggest the Symantec information was accessed from an Indian government server. Many governments require companies such as Symantec to submit their source code for inspection to prove they are not spying on the government.



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