It’s a terrible time to be a Symantec anti-virus user

According to Tavis Ormandy, who hails from Google’s Project Zero team, the team that is responsible for discovering vulnerabilities in systems, he has discovered that Symantec Antivirus Engine was vulnerable to a buffer overflow when parsing malformed portable-executable (PE) header files. He explains his findings below:

“Such malformed PE files can be received through incoming email, downloading of a document or application, or by visiting a malicious web site. No user interaction is required to trigger the parsing of the malformed file. On Windows, this results in kernel memory corruption, as the scan engine is loaded into the kernel, making this a remote ring0 memory corruption vulnerability — this is about as bad as it can possibly get.”

For Linux, OS X, and other Unix-like systems, the exploit results in a remote heap overflow as root in the Symantec or Norton process. Symantec on the other hand has stated that the ‘most common symptom of a successful attack’ would be a system crash and the infamous blue screen of death. Ormandy has also stated that when he attempted to mail Symantec information regarding the vulnerability, the email crashed Symantec’s mail server.

“This is a remote code execution vulnerability. Because Symantec use a filter driver to intercept all system I/O, just emailing a file to a victim or sending them a link is enough to exploit it.”

Symantec had pushed out a fix for its products on Monday, and has stated that its products that run LiveUpdate should be patched by now. According to Ormandy, the following products on all platforms were affected:

  • Symantec Endpoint Antivirus
  • Norton Antivirus
  • Symantec Scan Engine
  • Symantec Email Security

While Symantec might has said with the utmost confidence that its products have been patched, let us see what other vulnerabilities Google’s Project Zero team are able to uncover.