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Security Advisories Relating to Symantec Products - Symantec pcAnywhere Format String Denial of Service


March 17, 2009

Revision History



Remote Access (adjacent network)No
Local AccessYes
Authentication RequiredNo
Exploit availableNo


Symantec pcAnywhere is susceptible to a format string vulnerability. An authorized local user may potentially leverage this to crash the pcAnywhere application, leading to a denial of service.

Affected Product(s)

Product Version Build Solution
Symantec pcAnywhere 12.0, 12.1, 12.5 All Upgrade to 12.5 SP1

  Note: Only the versions listed above are supported. Customers running non-supported versions should upgrade to the above mentioned non-vulnerable version.


  Layered Defense informed Symantec of a format string vulnerability in Symantec pcAnywhere. This issue can be exploited by a malicious user to crash the application causing a denial of service. Successful exploitation requires local machine access.

Symantec Response

Symantec engineers verified this issue exists on those supported products identified above. Product updates are available for supported affected products.

Symantec is not aware of any customers impacted by this issue, or of any attempts to exploit it.

Information on downloading and applying the upgrade is available from the following locations:

For Enterprise, Small & Mid-Sized Business (SMB) - Download the update from your normal support location


or, use the LiveUpdate option, if authorized, to install this update

Home and Home Office -

pcAnywhere users who regularly run LiveUpdate should automatically receive an updated (non-vulnerable) version. To ensure all available updates have been applied, users can run a manual LiveUpdate as follows:
  • Open the Symantec pcAnywhere application
  • Click LiveUpdate
  • Run LiveUpdate until all available product updates are downloaded and installed
  • A system reboot may be required before the update takes affect

Best Practices

  As part of normal best practices, Symantec strongly recommends:
  • Restrict access to administration or management systems to privileged users.
  • Restrict remote access, if required, to trusted/authorized systems only.
  • Run under the principle of least privilege where possible to limit the impact of exploit by threats.
  • Keep all operating systems and applications updated with the latest vendor patches.
  • Follow a multi-layered approach to security. Run both firewall and anti-malware applications, at a minimum, to provide multiple points of detection and protection to both inbound and outbound threats.
  • Deploy network and host-based intrusion detection systems to monitor network traffic for signs of anomalous or suspicious activity. This may aid in detection of attacks or malicious activity related to exploitation of latent vulnerabilities


SecurityFocus, http://www.securityfocus.com, has assigned BID 33845 to this issue.

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), http://cve.mitre.org/, initiative has assigned CVE Candidate number CVE-2009-0538 to this issue.


Symantec would like to thank Deral Heiland with Layered Defense for reporting this issue and coordinating with us while Symantec resolved it.


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 responsible disclosure guidelines.
Symantec has developed a Software Security Vulnerability Management Process document outlining the process we follow in addressing suspected vulnerabilities in our products.
Symantec Corporation firmly believes in a proactive approach to secure software development and implements security review into various stages of the software development process. Additionally, Symantec is committed to the security of its products and services as well as to its customers’ data. Symantec is committed to continually improving its software security process.
This document provides an overview of the current Secure Development Lifecycle (SDLC) practice applicable to Symantec’s product and service teams as well as other software security related activities and policies used by such teams. This document is intended as a summary and does not represent a comprehensive list of security testing and practices conducted by Symantec in the software development process.
Please contact secure@symantec.com if you believe you have discovered a security issue in a Symantec product. A member of the Symantec Software Security team will contact you regarding your submission to coordinate any required response. Symantec strongly recommends using encrypted email for reporting vulnerability information to secure@symantec.com.
The Symantec Software Security PGP key can be found at the following location:
Permission to redistribute this alert electronically is granted as long as it is not edited in any way unless authorized by Symantec Software Security. Reprinting the whole or part of this alert in any medium other than electronically requires permission from secure@symantec.com.
Last modified on: March 17, 2009
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