Serious Vulnerabilities Reported in Open Source Anti-Virus

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2005-07-25 Print this article Print

ClamAV is widely distributed with Mac OS X Server and open source servers. Flaws can compromise server. Fixes are available.

A mysterious security research group is reporting that they have found several serious vulnerabilities in the ClamAV open source antivirus program. According to the advisory, the vulnerabilities are heap overflows in the processing of certain file formats, specifically TNEF, CHM and FSG. Because of the nature of the server, which is typically used to scan incoming e-mail and files attached to it, the vulnerabilities may be invoked simply by sending e-mail with malformed attachments to an address on a vulnerable server. The advisory claims that version 0.86.1 and earlier are affected. On Sunday ClamAV released 0.86.2, which fixes the problems.

ClamAV is available for Unix and Linux broadly, and included in many Linux distributions, including Suse and Debian.
Many security-service packages, such as Roaring Penguins and appliances, such as those from Barracuda Networks, are built on ClamAVs software.
Smart-phone Trojan poses as an anti-virus app. Click here to read more. According to Apple, Mac OS X Server 10.4 includes ClamAV as well. The fixes distributed by ClamAV may not yet be available for these distributions.

The research group lists several other past vulnerabilities in other antivirus products and also a "SOPHOS ANTIVIRUS LIBRARY REMØTE HEAP OVERFLOW" which is password-protected and dated "08.??.2005". did not respond to an e-mail request for information in time for publication. The researchers credited with discovering the problems, Alex Wheeler and Neel Mehta, gave a presentation at BlackHat Europe earlier this year on compromising antivirus programs.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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