Symantec said Feb. 1 that a high-risk hole could allow a remote attacker to take over vulnerable Sygate Management Servers.
The company issued a patch for the Sygate application vulnerability.
If left unpatched, remote attackers could use SQL (Structure Query Language) code to overwrite passwords for accounts on the server, possibly gaining administrative access to the server, Symantec said.
Symantec acquired the SMS (Sygate Management Server) technology with Sygate Technologies in October 2005.
SMS is one component of the Sygate Secure Enterprise platform and is used to distribute security policies and software updates to security agent software that runs on computer “endpoints” such as servers, desktop and laptop computers.
The vulnerability is an example of a SQL injection hole: a common kind of Web application.
Malicious hackers can modify URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) used to pass data to the Web application and inject their own SQL code, which is then run by the backend database.
An attacker would need network or local access to the SMS server to launch an attack.
If successful, the attacker could change the password of the SMS administrator account, gain password to the Management Server and disable Sygate agents or use the server to distribute malicious code to the machines running the Sygate agents, Symantec said.
The hole affects SMS Versions 3.5, 4.0 and 4.1, according to an alert published by Symantec.
In a separate warning, Secunia Inc. of Copenhagen, Denmark, rated the hole “moderately critical.”
Symantec recommended companies update their Sygate SMS servers as soon as possible. In the meantime, organizations should use access control lists to block Web-based access to the SMS server application and restrict network access to the SMS console to network administrators, Symantec said.
In November, the SANS Institute said that malicious hackers were setting their sights on application holes instead of operating system vulnerabilities.
The technical organizations singled out holes in backup and anti-virus software, in addition to Web browsers.
Injection vulnerabilities, like SQL injections, are one of the most common and serious application holes, according to data from the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project).
The holes are created when application developers do not adequately check parameters that are submitted to a Web based application in the form of Web URLs.
Security experts say that software development organizations need to do more to educate developers about application vulnerabilities and application attacks.
Automated code scanning tools that look for common holes can also help reduce the number of application vulnerabilities.
“The security industry wants to come up with a simple solution—a box,” said Caleb Sima, chief technology officer and co-founder of SPI Dynamics Inc., a Web application security company. “But youve got to go back to software development and people coding and the development lifecycle… Theres no simple answer.”