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August 24, 2005
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 9.0 and Symantec Client Security 2.0 Help File Elevation of Privilege

Revision History

Risk Impact
Medium (client only)

Remote AccessNo
Local AccessYes
Authentication RequiredYes
Exploit publicly availableNot Required

The Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition HTML client help function uses HTML help, the Windows help interface, to provide support to the client user. A non-privileged client user can manipulate the help function to access files on the system with local SYSTEM privileges.

Affected Products

Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition9.0Upgrade to MR3 or later
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition9.0.1Upgrade to MR3 or later
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition9.0.2Upgrade to MR3 or later
Symantec Client Security2.0Upgrade to MR3 or later
Symantec Client Security2.0.1Upgrade to MR3 or later
Symantec Client Security2.0.2Upgrade to MR3 or later

Non-Affected Products

Symantec AntiVirus Corporate EditionPrior to 9.0
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition9.0.3 and later
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition10.0
Symantec Client SecurityPrior to 2.0
Symantec Client Security2.0.3 and later
Symantec Client Security3.0

iDefense Labs notified Symantec of an issue within the functionality of the Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition HTML help interface that allows an authorized, but non-privileged user to gain privileged access to files and functionality on the local system.

The Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition client help function uses HTML help, the Windows help interface, to provide support to the client user. This interface was made to provide the user with a common interface that the user understands, is familiar with, and is able to implement quickly and easily. When an authorized user accesses the GUI on the Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition client, the user can request help using the GUI toolbar.

In the vulnerable product versions, the HTML help functionality assumes permissions from the Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition privileged access, rather than retaining the more restrictive user privileges assigned to a non-privileged logged-in user. By manipulating the GUI interface the non-privileged local user gains the ability to browse all system files or execute local system applications and programs with local SYSTEM privilege.

Symantec Response
Symantec engineers verified this issue and corrected it in Maintenance Release (MR) 3 and all subsequent MRs and upgrades for Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition and Symantec Client Security. Symantec strongly recommends users update to the latest MR available for Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 9.0 and Symantec Client Security 2.0 or to the latest product version to protect against this issue. MR 4 is available to address this threat in the Japanese and Korean language versions of Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 9.0 and Symantec Client Security 2.0.

Upgrade Information
Maintenance Releases and product upgrades are available through the Platinum Support Web Site for Platinum customers or through the FileConnect -Electronic Software Distribution web site for licensed users.

There are mitigating circumstances that greatly reduce the risk of intentional or inadvertent use of this issue in affected Symantec products.

  • The user must have a user account on the targeted system and be logged on interactively to exploit this weakness.
  • This weakness cannot be exploited remotely.
  • Local System privileges can only be gained on the client system, which normally limits the impact to the logged on system.
  • Access to domain controllers / administrator systems would normally be restricted to trusted Administrators only with restricted access to the physical system.
Symantec is not aware of any adverse customer impact from this issue.

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) initiative has assigned CVE Candidate CAN-2005-2017 to this issue.

This issue is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org), which standardizes names for security problems.

Symantec thanks iDEFENSE Labs, for notification of this issue and coordinating disclosure as it was resolved.

Symantec takes the security and proper functionality of our products very seriously. As founding members of the Organization for Internet Safety (OISafety), Symantec supports and follows the principles of responsible disclosure. Symantec also subscribes to the vulnerability disclosure guidelines outlined by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC).

Please contact secure@symantec.com if you feel you have discovered a security issue in a Symantec product. A Symantec Product Security team member will contact you regarding your submission. Symantec strongly recommends using encrypted email for reporting vulnerability information to secure@symantec.com. The Symantec Product Security PGP key can be found at the end of this message.

Symantec has developed a Product Vulnerability Response document outlining the process we follow in addressing suspected vulnerabilities in our products. This document is available below.

PDF Symantec Vulnerability Response Policy PGP Symantec Product Vulnerability Management PGP Key

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Permission to redistribute this alert electronically is granted as long as it is not edited in any way unless authorized by Symantec Security Response. Reprinting the whole or part of this alert in any medium other than electronically requires permission from secure@symantec.com.

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Initial Post on: Wednesday, 24-Aug-05 13:40:00
Last modified on: Wednesday, 24-Aug-2005 14:05:16 PDT
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