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Security Advisories Relating to Symantec Products - Symantec Encryption Desktop Compressed Mail File Denial-of-Service


August 21, 2014








Base Score



CVSS2 Vector

Symantec Encryption Desktop Compressed Mail File Denial-of-Service - Medium







Certain encryption applications permit compression directly in the message body of an encrypted email file. Symantec Encryption Desktop will attempt decompression and decryption of these specifically formatted incoming email files without properly limiting maximum file size during the decompression process. Decryption of an excessively large compressed message could cause high memory and CPU usage resulting in a denial-of-service (DoS) as the system becomes unresponsive during the decompression attempt.

 Product(s) Affected





Symantec PGP Desktop





Symantec Encryption Desktop 10.3.2 Maintenance Pack 3

Symantec Encryption Desktop  



Symantec Encryption Desktop 10.3.2 Maintenance Pack 3



Symantec was notified that Symantec Encryption Desktop is susceptible to creating a DoS condition on a client system when decrypting a specifically formatted/compressed incoming encrypted email message.  Symantec Encryption Desktop fails to properly limit decompressed file size during the decryption process.  Certain encryption applications allow compression directly in the encrypted mail file which is decrypted and decompressed by Symantec Encrypted Desktop on receipt by the mail client.  A malicious individual can encrypt a specifically formatted and encrypted email message and send it to a targeted user.  Depending on the option setting for the mail client, Symantec Encryption Desktop will attempt the decryption process upon receipt of the malformed email without user intervention.  By not properly restricting size limitations during the decompression portion of the decryption, this could result in excessive CPU and memory usage.  Successful exploitation of this issue could cause a system to become unresponsive and potentially crash.    

Symantec Response

Symantec engineers verified this issue and have released an update in Symantec Encryption Desktop 10.3.2 MP3.

Update information

Customers may obtain Symantec Desktop Encryption maintenance updates through their normal Symantec support locations.

Best Practices

As part of normal best practices, Symantec strongly recommends:

  • Restrict access to administration or management systems to privileged users.
  • Disable remote access if not required or restrict it to trusted/authorized systems only.
  • Where possible, limit exposure of application and web interfaces to trusted/internal networks only.
  • 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

Symantec would like to thank Alexander Klink, n.runs professionals GmbH, for reporting the issue and working with Symantec as it was addressed.




BID: Security Focus, http://www.securityfocus.com, has assigned a Bugtraq ID (BID) to this issue for inclusion in the Security Focus vulnerability database.

CVE: This issue is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (http://cve.mitre.org), which standardizes names for security problems.







BID 69259

Symantec Encryption Desktop Compressed Mail File Denial-of-Service






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: August 21, 2014
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