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October 5, 2006
Symantec Automated Support Assistant: Vulnerabilities in Support Tool ActiveX Control

Revision History
25 February 2008: Added CVE identifier

Low (moderated by site restriction and user interaction requirements)

RemoteYes, with user interaction
Authentication Requiredsite restricted, user interaction required
Exploit publicly availableNo

Vulnerabilities were reported in a Symantec-developed ActiveX control, installed with some of Symantecís consumer products and as a part of Symantecís technical support troubleshooting tools. Exploitation of these issues could possibly lead to unauthorized information disclosure or potentially allow arbitrary code execution in the context of the userís browser. However, successful exploitation requires specific conditions.

Supported Product(s)
Symantec Automated Support Assistant Fix Available
Symantec Norton AntiVirus2005-2006Fix Available
Symantec Norton Internet Security2005-2006Fix Available
Symantec Norton System Works2005-2006Fix Available

Note: Only the Symantec Consumer products indicated above shipped with these components. However, the Automated Support Assistant is used by support to detect problems on computer running any supported Symantec consumer product to provide the user with information on solutions to those problems. Therefore, this control may be installed on Symantec customer systems running consumer products and versions, 2006 and prior, other than those listed above.

Symantec Corporate and Enterprise products do not install or use these components and are NOT affected by this issue. 2007 Consumer releases are NOT affected by this issue.

Symantec was alerted to a stack overflow and information disclosure vulnerabilities that Next Generation Security Research (NGSS) discovered in a Symantec-developed ActiveX control, installed as a part of Symantecís Automated Support Assistant and with some of Symantecís consumer products (indicated above). This ActiveX control failed to properly validate external input. This failure could potentially result in a browser crash or, possibly unauthorized use of methods allowing access to system information as well as a stack overflow with the potential for malicious code execution in the context of the userís browser.

The impact of this threat is considerably lessened as it requires interactive user involvement as well as an attackerís successful spoofing of a trusted domain website in any attempt to compromise the targeted system. The ActiveX control identified is restricted to specific trusted websites in which it can be scripted. To exploit successfully, an attacker would need to be able to effectively masquerade as the authorized site and entice a user to click on their specific URL for the malicious code to successfully impact the customerís system.

Symantec Response
Symantec product engineers have developed and released solutions for this issue through Symantec's LiveUpdate and other venues.

Symantec users who normally run regular manual LiveUpdates will already be protected. However, to ensure all available patches have been properly applied to Symantec products, users should run a manual LiveUpdate as follows:

  • Open any installed Symantec consumer product identified above
  • Click on LiveUpdate in the toolbar
  • Run LiveUpdate until all available Symantec product updates are downloaded and installed
Symantec product engineers have upgraded the current vulnerable component on the Symantec support website so users will be able to download a non-vulnerable version of the Automated Support Assistant.

Customers who may have previously downloaded the support tool or users who have installed the consumer products identified above can go to the support site, https://www-secure.symantec.com/techsupp/asa/install.jsp and download a new version of the Automated Support Assistant. By downloading a new version, the legacy tool will be replaced by an updated, non-vulnerable version.

Symantec recommends all customers apply all updates to protect against threats of this nature.

Symantec knows of no exploitation of or adverse customer impact from these issues.

Symantec Security Response has also developed a removal tool to assist in removing legacy versions of the at risk control. The removal tool is located here

IDS signatures have been developed to detect and block any attempts to exploit this issue.

Customers using Symantec Norton Internet Security or Norton Personal Firewall will receive signature updates if they run LiveUpdate automatically. If not, Symantec recommends customers manually run Symantec LiveUpdate regularly to ensure they have the most current protection available. Internet zone settings for the local user may prohibit activation of ActiveX controls without their consent. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the local user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system would be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights in the event of any attempted compromise.

As always, if previously unknown malicious code were to be distributed in this manner, Symantec Security Response will quickly react and send updated definitions via LiveUpdate to detect and block any new threat.

Best Practices
As part of normal best practices, Symantec strongly recommends a multi-layered approach to security:

  • Run under the principle of least privilege where possible.
  • Keep all operating systems and applications updated with the latest vendor patches.
  • Users, at a minimum, should run both a personal firewall and antivirus application with current updates to provide multiple points of detection and protection to both inbound and outbound threats.
  • Users should be cautious of mysterious attachments and executables delivered via email and be cautious of browsing unknown/untrusted websites or opening unknown/untrusted URL links.
  • Do not open unidentified attachments or executables from unknown sources or that you didn't request or were unaware of.
  • Always err on the side of caution. Even if the sender is known, the source address may be spoofed.
  • If in doubt, contact the sender to confirm they sent it and why before opening the attachment. If still in doubt, delete the attachment without opening it.

This issue is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org), which standardizes names for security problems. The CVE identifier assigned to this issue is CVE-2006-5403.

Symantec thanks John Heasman of Next Generation Security Research for reporting this finding to us and for excellent coordination while resolving this issue.

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

Copyright © by Symantec Corp.
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.

The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.

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Initial Post on: Thursday, 05-Oct-06 09:00:00
Last modified on: Monday, 25-Feb-2008 13:42:15 PST
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