An attack script has been posted online on how to crash PCAnywhere. Now security researchers are warnings that malicious developers can use the code to attack different versions.
Despite Symantec's claims to the contrary, security
researchers now believe that malicious developers can look at the leaked
pcAnywhere source code and find vulnerabilities that can be exploited in
A researcher found that pcAnywhere's source code was
relatively unchanged from 10 years ago, according to an anonymous submission to
the InfoSec Institute Feb. 17. Most changes to the code over the past few years were made to ensure the
software keeps running on newer versions of Microsoft Windows, according to the
InfoSec Institute post.
Analysis of the leaked source code and documentation
available online contained information for pcAnywhere versions 9.2 through
12.0.2 and had a lot of information about what would be implemented in what is
now the current version, 12.5. Source code for Symantec's LiveUpdate tool,
which is used to update all Symantec products on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
was also available, according to the analysis.
"A surprising amount of the core code originates from
what is now 10 years ago with only a few added changes," the researcher
Symantec did not respond to eWEEK's requests for comments.
an individual associated with an Indian hacker group, had claimed in early
January to have obtained the source
code for several Symantec
products in a network breach that happened
. Symantec finally admitted the 2006 versions of Norton Antivirus
Corporate Edition, Norton Internet Security, Norton SystemWorks and pcAnywhere
had been stolen. Symantec warned users to stop
while it patched the software, and on Jan. 30, said it was
safe to use the software again. After email negotiations collapsed between law
enforcement agencies and Yamatough over a $50,000
and destruction of the code, Yamatough released portions
of the source code online.
Symantec had previously said the stolen source code for its
security products did not pose any risks to any users because the code base had
changed in the past few years. That appears to not have been the case for
pcAnywhere as there doesn't appear to have ever been a plan for the complete
rewrite of the source code, according to the InfoSec Institute post.
"12.5 is simply a continuation of this same code base," the researcher wrote, adding, "Any exploits in the code are now visible by all."With the code released and readily accessible, "the sky is the limit" for
malicious developers, the researcher wrote. The "juicy details of the
pcAnywhere product as well as accompanying source code for all related
components" are now readily available, making pcAnywhere "pcEverywhere,"
according to the post.
Considering the high amount of reused code in
pcAnywhere, the software is highly vulnerable because attackers can now detect flaws in the code that can be exploited, the researcher wrote.
Despite the age of the software, PCAnywhere is still used on at least 150,000 to 200,000 systems connected to the Internet, according to a recent survey by Rapid7. The security company's survey was conducted to determine how prevalent the service was after Symantec warned the software should be disabled until it could be patched. About 2.5 percent of those systems appeared to be point of sales systems such as cash registers and other payment processing systems, according to Rapid7.
Companies that process credit cards and other e-commerce retailers appear to be most vulnerable to attackers looking at PCAnywhere exploits, said HD Moore, CSO of Rapid7. In fact, several POS vendors still recommend their customers install PCAnywhere for remote access, Moore said.
A potential pcAnywhere exploit was released on text-sharing
site Pastebin on Feb. 17 by Johnathan Norman, director of security research at
Alert Logic. The Python code, PCAnywhere Nuke, can be used to create a
denial-of-service attack condition by crashing one of the remote access
program's services. The exploit is successfully against the most recent, fully
patched version of PCAnywhere, version 12.5 build 463, and earlier versions, said
PCAnywhere Nuke is a limited exploit at the moment because
an attacker would have to run the script every two minutes to keep up the
attack, according to Moore. It also is not
clear at this point if the exploit is just crashing the service or if it is
exploiting a bigger vulnerability that can be used to compromise the system
running the software, said Moore.
The InfoSec analysis also claimed Symantec had developed an
installer that installs newer versions of pcAnywhere in silent mode. It could
be possible to use the code to make a modified version of pcAnywhere which users
could be tricked into downloading. Once downloaded, it would act as a back-door
application for researchers to use to compromise the system, said Moore.
It's important to realize that remote control applications such as PCAnywhere were already a prime target for attackers trying to break into networks, Joel Bomgar, CEO of Bomgar, wrote on the company blog Jan. 26. Verizon specifically called out PCAnywhere in its 2011 Data Breach Investigations Report as being one of the products used to compromise systems.