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DLL code flaw marks the latest Symantec vulnerability

News roundup: The latest chapter of Symantec's security struggles involves a high-severity DLL code flaw. Plus, Dyn attacker might be a lone gamer, James Clapper resigns and more.

In an already troubled year for Symantec, the company reported another major vulnerability in three of its enterprise security products.

Found in the IT Management Suite 8.0, Ghost Solution Suite 3.1 and Endpoint Virtualization 7.x products, the flaw is a dynamic link library (DLL) loading issue that can be exploited in two different ways. First, an "authorized, but nonprivileged" user could execute malicious DLL code in place of the authorized DLL code. The second way to exploit this DLL code flaw is for outside attackers to trick an authorized user to click on an email link that would download the malicious code. "Ultimately, this problem is caused by a failure to use an absolute path when loading DLLs during product boot up/reboot," Symantec said in its security advisory.

While DLL code vulnerabilities are common and thought to be a lesser threat to enterprises, Symantec rated this vulnerability as high severity. Symantec has not reported any actual exploitation of this vulnerability and has already released product upgrades that will fix the issue for all three products.

However, the discovery of this flaw, listed as CVE-2016-6590, is the latest in a growing line of Symantec security product vulnerabilities found this year. While the DLL flaw was unearthed by Himanshu Mehta, senior threat analysis engineer at Symantec, the three prior batches of flaws were reported by Google Project Zero's Tavis Ormandy.

The previous flaws include an easily exploitable one in the core scanning engine used in most Symantec and Norton antivirus products, as well as a vulnerability -- found just weeks after the first -- caused by unpatched, third-party open source software that was said to be "as bad as it gets" by Ormandy. The most recent set of Symantec bugs were in the file parser component of its antivirus decomposer engine.

In its vulnerability report for the DLL flaw, Symantec recommended several best practices for users of the affected products to reduce the threat, including restricting access to administrative or management systems to authorized privileged users, implementing the principle of least privilege and restricting remote access to only authorized systems.

In other news:

  • A gamer seeking revenge might be responsible for the Oct. 21 attack on domain name system  provider Dyn that shut down parts of the internet. In his testimony for a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Level 3 Communications Inc. CSO Dale Drew said the attack was likely the work of a single individual who was specifically targeting the PlayStation Network. "We believe that in the case of Dyn, the relatively unsophisticated attacker sought to take offline a gaming site with which it had a personal grudge," Drew said. The attack used the Mirai malware to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack and gain control over more than 150,000 internet-of-things devices and overwhelm Dyn's sytems, which interrupted service to major websites, such as Twitter, Reddit and Netflix.
  • United States Director of National Intelligence James Clapper submitted his letter of resignation on Nov. 16. Clapper oversees 17 different agencies, including the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, and he is the lead intelligence adviser to President Barack Obama. Clapper -- who is 75 years old and has held the position for six years -- announced his decision to resign in a Congressional hearing, and the Office of the DNI confirmed it on Twitter the following morning. Clapper was a central figure in the debate over government surveillance following the Edward Snowden revelations. He received criticism from lawmakers, security experts and privacy advocates for testifying before Congress in 2013 about the NSA's spying programs, claiming the agency did not engage in bulk data collection on millions of Americans. Clapper's resignation goes into effect at noon on Jan. 20, 2017.
  • Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, has regrets about getting involved in Craig Wright's attempts to prove he created the digital currency bitcoin. Andresen backed Wright's claim to be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto -- which he has failed to prove on multiple occasions -- and even defended Wright after his claims were debunked. Andresen has kept a relatively low profile since Wright's last failure six months ago, but posted a brief statement on his blog on Nov. 16. "So, either he was or he wasn't," Andresen wrote on whether or not Wright is Satoshi. "In either case, we should ignore him. I regret ever getting involved in the 'who was Satoshi' game, and am going to spend my time on more fun and productive pursuits."
  • The ransomware known as Crysis suffered a blow Nov. 13, when the master decryption keys were made available to the public after being posted on BleepingComputer forums. Crysis first surfaced in February 2016 when ESET researchers found it was filling in for the receding TeslaCrypt ransomware. According to ESET's report, Crysis is able to "encrypt files on fixed, removable and network drives. It uses strong encryption algorithms and a scheme that makes it difficult to crack in reasonable time." This ransomware was spread primarily through attachments to spam emails, but now its victims have an opportunity to recover what they've lost. The decryption keys -- posted by a BleepingComputer user known only as crss7777 -- cover Crysis versions 2 and 3, and Kaspersky Lab has already added them to the Rakhni decryptor.

Next Steps

Learn more about the critical Symantec vulnerabilities found this year

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