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Symantec’s anti-virus software hacked from India

The Americas Post - If Symantec can be hacked, it means that no one is safe

One of the biggest security firms in the world was embarrassed this week when hackers stole the source code for Symantec’s industry-leading anti-virus program.

The code theft from the security company will probably not affect the average computer user or compromise his computer, analysts say, but is a serious image problem for the Fortune 500 company.

In a statement to Computerworld.com late Thursday, the California-based firm confirmed that source code used in two of its older security products was publicly exposed by hackers this week.  The compromised code — between four and five years old — does not affect Symantec’s consumer-oriented Norton products as previously speculated, Symantec said.

“Our own network was not breached, but rather that of a third-party entity,” the statement claimed. “We are still gathering information on the details and are not in a position to provide specifics on the third-party involved. Presently, we have no indication that the code disclosure impacts the functionality or security of Symantec’s solutions.”

Symantec spokesman Cris Paden told Computerworld that the two affected products were Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 and Symantec Antivirus 10.2, both of which are more than five years old.

“We’re taking this extremely seriously, but in terms of a threat, a lot has changed since these codes were developed,” Paden told the website. “We distributed 10 million new signatures in 2010 alone. That gives you an idea of how much these products have morphed since then, when you’re talking four and five years.”

An Indian hacking group reportedly identifying itself as Lords of Dharmaraja claimed it had accessed source code for Symantec’s Norton AV products. Using the handle “YamaTough,” a member of the group initially posted several documents on Pastebin and Google+ that were purportedly proof that the group had accessed Symantec’s source code.

In a blog post on the code leak, Rob Rachwald, director of security for Imperva, a U.S.-based data security company based, said the incident isn’t likely to keep the Symantec folks “awake too late” at night.

“After all, there isn’t much hackers can learn from the code which they hadn’t known before,” Rachwald wrote. “Why? Most of the anti-virus product is based on attack signatures. By basing defenses on signatures, malware authors continuously write malware to evade signature detection (in 2007, antivirus could only detect between 20-30% of malware).”