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Symantec refuses to sell audit tool outside the US

Return of the crypto wars?

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Exclusive Symantec has stopped selling a password auditing tool to customers outside the US and Canada, citing US Government export regulations.

A Reg reader who works for a large UK supermarket was this month unable to buy a copy of LC 5, a tool developed by @stake prior to its recent acquisition by Symantec. LC 5 is the commercial version of a password auditing / breaking tool better known as L0phtCrack.

"A month ago I could have bought it from the @stake web site, that website has gone and the product has not appeared on the Symantec web site. I inquired if I could purchase the product, only to be told that it will only be sold to US and Canadian customers," our correspondent informs us. "I guess I'll just have to go back to using John the Ripper."

Symantec's restrictions recall the dark days of the crypto wars when users outside the US were not entitled to buy products featuring strong ciphers. These rules, relaxed by the Clinton administration and following a long running campaign by cryptography experts and net activists, are once again rearing their head. Symantec's response to our reader (below) suggests the policy was imposed on it by the US government.

Unfortunately, due to strict US Government export regulations Symantec is only able to fulfill new LC5 orders or offer technical support directly with end-users located in the United States and commercial entities in Canada, provided all screening is successful.

Commodities, technology or software is subject to U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security control if exported or electronically transferred outside of the USA. Commodities, technology or software are controlled under ECCN 5A002.c.1, cryptanalytic.

You can also access further information on our web site at the following address: http://www.symantec.com/region/reg_eu/techsupp/enterprise/index.html

Beyond confirming that "the statement you have received from your reader is correct", Symantec declined to field questions on the rationale for its policy and whether it applies to other products. Any US government policy to impose export regulations on security technologies would be futile since, to cite only one reason, many security firms are based outside the US and therefore unaffected by such regulations. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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