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Security Advisories Relating to Symantec Products - Symantec Antivirus Engine Malformed PE Header Parser Memory Access Violation


May 16, 2016




Severity (CVSS v2 and CVSS V3)


Base Score

CVSS2 Vector

Symantec AVE malformed PE header parser memory access violation - High




Base Score

CVSS3 Vector

Symantec AVE malformed PE header parser memory access violation - High




Symantec's Anti-Virus Engine (AVE) was susceptible to memory access violation due to a flaw when parsing a specifically-crafted PE header file in the kernel. The most common symptom of a successful attack would result in a system crash.

Affected Products





Symantec Anti-Virus Engine



Update to Symantec Anti-Virus Engine v 20151.1.1.4 via LiveUpdateTM


Symantec was notified of a critical issue in the Antivirus Scan Engine when parsing incoming malformed portable-executable (PE) header files. Parsing routine of crafted malformed file could be triggered through incoming email attachment or deliberate download.
The most common symptom of successful exploitation resulted in an immediate system crash from memory access violation in the kernel.

Symantec Response

Symantec product engineers have addressed this in the latest AVE update, version 20151.1.1.4 release effective 5/16/2016 delivered to customers via LiveUpdateTM along with the usual definition and signature updates.

Update Information

Norton Security and Symantec Enterprise products with default scheduled LiveUpdateTM should have received an updated fix.
Users could manually launch and run LiveUpdate™ in Interactive mode as follows:

  • Access LiveUpdateTM in the product

  • Run LiveUpdateTM until all available updates are downloaded and installed

Symantec is not aware of exploitation of or adverse customer impact from this issue.

Best Practices

As part of normal best practices, Symantec strongly recommends the following:

  • Restrict access to administrative or management systems to authorized 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 potential exploit.

  • Keep all operating systems and applications current with vendor patches.

  • Follow a multi-layered approach to security. At a minimum, run both firewall and anti-malware applications 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 the detection of attacks or malicious activity related to the exploitation of latent vulnerabilities.


Symantec would like to thank Tavis Ormandy with Google's Project Zero, for reporting this to us and working with us as we addressed the issue.


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/cve), which standardizes names for security problems.






Symantec AVE malformed PE header parser memory access violation


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: May 16, 2016
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