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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Symantec comes clean on Norton rootkit

Popular consumer security software vendor Symantec has come a cropper over use of 'rootkit' technology in its products.

The news couldn't have come at a worse time, in the shadow of the Sony rootkit fiasco, which ended in court settlements whereby the music giant offered replacements, refunds and free music in a bid to placate public outcry.

Symantec, for its part, has issued a fix for an element in its Norton SystemWorks and Premier range which recovers deleted data.

The NProtect directory temporarily stores copies of files that have been deleted or modified. If a user accidentally deletes a valuable file from the Recycle Bin in Windows, then Norton will be able to recover it from the NProtect folder.

But Symantec didn't want users to see the folders, in case they accidentally deleted the contents here too. So it made the folder invisible to Windows. And being invisible to Windows, it is also invisible to programs running on Windows. Like antivirus programs, for example. So any malicious files stored in the NProtect directory wouldn't be scanned.

Symantec has now decided that this is not necessarily a good thing. It has issued an update to the software to reveal it in Windows.

It says the program can be updated simply by running the update feature of the software, but adds that it will require a reboot.

It claims the risks associated with the hidden directory are low, as it can not be exploited remotely and an attacker would have to successfully authenticate themselves to gain access.

The company is not aware of any malicious code built to exploit the directory at the present time.

Source

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