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Security Advisories Relating to Symantec Products - Symantec pcAnywhere awhost32 Denial of Service


March 1, 2012

Revision History


4/9/2012 – Symantec released the latest version of pcAnywhere: pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 and pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7 which included many performance enhancements, all of the previous released security updates and enhancements to the security model of pcAnywhere.  Symantec recommends all pcAnywhere users move to the latest release of their respective product.





CVSS2 Base Score: 4.96

Impact 2.86, Exploitability 9.99

CVSS2 Vector:  (AV:N/AC:L/Au:N/C:N/I:N/A:P)

Exploits Publicly Available:  Yes

A Denial of Service (DoS) exploit has been publicly released that can temporarily crash the awhost32 service for Symantec pcAnywhere. 

Affected Product(s)





Symantec pcAnywhere



Upgrade to the latest release of pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 or pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7.  For instructions, see the following article:


Or, if your are currently unable to upgrade, apply  the TECH182142 hot fix.  For instructions, see the following article


Symantec pcAnywhere

12.0.x, 12.1.x


Symantec pcAnywhere Solution  shipped with Altiris IT Management Suite 7.x

12.5.x, 12.6.x



Symantec pcAnywhere Solution shipped with Altiris Client Management Suite 7.x

12.5.x, 12.6.x


Remote pcAnywhere Solution shipped with Altiris Deployment Solution 7.1

12.5.x, 12.6.x


Symantec pcAnywhere

10.x , 11.x


No longer supported:  See Note below

Note: Any user running a version of pcAnywhere earlier than 12.x is strongly advised to upgrade to the latest release, pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 or pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7

Upgrade instructions and build number identification are included in DOC5442, http://www.symantec.com/docs/DOC5442

  • The hot fixes identified in TECH182142 have been back ported to support Symantec pcAnywhere 12.0.x and 12.1.x for customers currently unable to upgrade to Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 or pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7
  • Symantec strongly recommends that customers upgrade at the first opportunity to the latest release of pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 or pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7
  • If you are using an earlier version of Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5, SP1 or SP2, and have already applied all hot fixes, you WILL need to reapply the hot fixes identified in TECH182142 after upgrading to Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5 SP3


Symantec is aware of the public posting of a DoS exploit impacting Symantec pcAnywhere. An unexpected input to the awhost32 service can destabilize the service causing it to crash. In a normal installation the service automatically restarts.  A successful attack would result in a temporary loss of access to the affected system.


Symantec Response
Symantec engineers verified this on the supported versions identified above. A product update is available to address this DoS issue.
Symantec engineers continue to review all functionality to further enhance the overall security of Symantec pcAnywhere.

If you are not currently able to move to the latest Symantec release; pcAnywhere 12.5 SP4 or pcAnywhere Solution 12.6.7, at least ensure you are running the most current hot fixes for your pcAnywhere application available from the following location:

For Enterprise, Small & Mid-Sized Business (SMB) - Download the appropriate update from
TECH182142 http://symantec.com/business/docs/TECH182142.

  • TECH182142 provides the most current updated hot fix information to include all available patches that have been released for Symantec pcAnywhere 
  • If you have already applied previous hot fixes you will still need to apply the latest TECH182142 hot fix to ensure you have all the latest updates.
  • If  you have NOT applied previous Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5 SP3 hot fixes, then you need to apply all the TECH182142 hot fixes

LiveUpdate Option for Home and Home Office users of Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5.x:


  • Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5.x  users who run automatic LiveUpdate will automatically receive updates to Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5 SP3 and all currently available hot fixes
  • Users running Symantec pcAnywhere supported versions prior to 12.5.x (12.0.x or 12.1.x) will NOT receive these upgrades or hot fixes through LiveUpdate.  Symantec strongly recommends following guidance in TECH180597 for upgrading to pcAnywhere 12.5 SP3 and then apply all available updates


Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5.x users should run a manual LiveUpdate as follows to ensure they have the latest updates available:

  • Open the Symantec pcAnywhere 12.5.x application
  • Click Help > LiveUpdate
  • Run LiveUpdate until all available product updates are downloaded and installed
  • A system reboot may be required for the update to take affect

Once all updates have been applied, review update and build information found in TECH182142 to ensure you have updated your Symantec pcAnywhere application to the latest available build.  

Best Practices

Symantec recommends the following best practices when using remote access applications:

  • Corporate firewalls should not allow inbound or outbound access without using VPN tunnels.
  • When configuring a remote access application, establish policies around password strength, password retry limits.
  • Always configure the application to require the user to approve all remote connections.

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


Security Focus, http://www.securityfocus.com, has assigned the following Bugtraq ID

BID 52094 for the awhost32 denial of service

This issue is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org), which standardizes names for security problems. CVE ID CVE-2012-0292 has been assigned to 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 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 1, 2012
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