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Red alert over Symantec firewall flaw

Four bugs rated as 'potentially devastating'

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Four new vulnerabilities have been identified in Symantec's personal firewall products.

Symantec warned yesterday that hackers could exploit the flaws to render targeted systems inoperable or execute remote code with kernel-level privileges. The problems were discovered during product testing of Symantec's client firewall application by security firm eEye Digital Security.

Affected consumer products include Symantec Norton Internet Security and Professional, Norton Personal Firewall and Norton AntiSpam. Versions of Symantec's enterprise products Symantec Client Firewall and Symantec Client Security are also affected.

Symantec has released patches through its LiveUpdate service and technical support channels. Users can obtain the patches in running LiveUpdate in much the same way they would do to obtain new anti-virus definitions.

Security firm Secunia warns that some of vulnerabilities are easy to exploit and may lend themselves to the design of worms. Thomas Kristensen, Secunia's CTO, said: "Because the vulnerability can be exploited using UDP traffic, the worm may be as fast and violent as the Slammer worm exploiting Microsoft SQL servers last year."

One day after patches were published, similar vulnerabilities in ISS's firewall products were exploited by the Witty worm: it did a pretty good job of trashing infected systems. This is yet another good reason to apply Symantec's update sooner rather than later. ®

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