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November 10, 2004
Symantec Norton AntiVirus Auto-Protect Alert Notification Limited Denial of Service

Revision History

Risk Impact
Minimal to non-existent
The Protection Profile of the Symantec Norton AntiVirus application is not affected in anyway; only the current running user interface is impacted.

Symantec is responding to a posting to the Bugtraq mailing list. The poster was able to create a VBS script that caused a minor denial of service by terminating the system tray icon for Symantec Norton AntiVirus as well as preventing the Auto-Protect pop-up alerts from displaying on the user's system.

To get a malicious script that can do this on a targeted system, the attacker requires "user assistance" by either enticing the targeted user to visit a location where the malicious file could be downloaded or have access to and permissions on the target system to upload or transfer the malicious file.

Affected Components
Symantec Norton AntiVirus (2003,2004, 2005)
Symantec Norton Internet Security and Professional (2003, 2004, 2005)
Symantec Norton System Works, Professional and Premier (2003, 2004, 2005)

Non-Affected Components
This issue does NOT impact Symantec Enterprise/Corporate products

A posting to the Bugtraq mailing list reported an issue with Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 2004. The poster reported that he could defeat the script blocking capability in Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2004 by running a malicious VBS script on the target system that kills the Auto-Protect capability. By running his script on the target system, the poster reported he was able to terminate the running Auto-Protect process, and kill the Auto-Protect feature of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 2004 product. According to the poster, terminating the running Auto-Protect process could leave the targeted system vulnerable to additional malicious code attacks.

Symantec Response
Symantec engineers have thoroughly tested this issue on all supported Symantec Norton AntiVirus consumer products.

There is some basic misunderstanding in the posting about what impact killing the running Auto-Protect process has on Symantec's Auto-Protect functionality. Terminating CCApp.exe, as the poster states, will cause the Norton AntiVirus icon in the system tray to disappear and, will disable the user notifications regarding Auto-Protect actions, a very low risk denial of service. But, the user's system continues to be protected by the underlying Auto-Protect capability. The protection profile of the Symantec Norton AntiVirus application is not affected.

Were a user to download malicious code to a system while the CCApp.exe process is terminated in this manner, the user would not receive an Auto-Protect alert pop-up notification. However, the malicious code would be detected by Symantec's Norton AntiVirus Auto-Protect function and would be prevented from being written to file or executed on the targeted system. The Auto-Protect notifications and the system tray icon can be easily restored by:

  • going to start =>Programs=>and opening Symantec Norton AntiVirus which kicks off the Auto-Protect running process
  • or, when the system is rebooted
Although this is a very low risk issue, Symantec takes the security and functionality of their products very seriously. Symantec product engineers are currently investigating alternatives to address this issue. A resolution to this minimal disruption for Symantec's 2005 product versions has been completed. The update can be obtained through technical support from this location.

As a part of normal user best practices, Symantec highly recommends a multi-layered approach to security.
  • At minimum, 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.
  • Keep vendor-supplied patches for all application software and operating systems up-to-date.
  • Exercise caution when visiting unknown/untrusted websites or opening unknown URL links.
  • Do not open unidentified attachments or executables from unknown sources or that you didn't request.
  • Always err on the side of caution. Even if the sender is known, the source address may be faked.
  • If in doubt, contact the sender to confirm they sent the attachment and why before opening the attachment. If still in doubt, delete the attachment.

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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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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Last modified on: Thursday, 11-Nov-04 13:43:07