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Symantec slams Web Gateway back door on would-be corporate spies

Critical remote code execution vuln fixed - only five months later

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Symantec has plugged a series of critical flaws in its Web Gateway appliances which included a backdoor permitting remote code execution on targeted systems.

The flaws, discovered during a short crash test by security researchers at Austrian firm SEC Consult, created a means to execute code with root privileges - or the ability to take over a vulnerable appliance.

In an advisory note, SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab warns the flaws posed a huge spying risk to corporate users of Symantec's technology, which is designed to prevent malware and other threats from getting inside corporate networks.

Several of the discovered vulnerabilities below can be chained together in order to run arbitrary commands with the privileges of the "root" user on the appliance.

An attacker can get unauthorized access to the appliance and plant backdoors or access configuration files containing credentials for other systems (eg. Active Directory/LDAP credentials) which can be used in further attacks. Since all web traffic passes through the appliance, interception of HTTP as well as the plaintext form of HTTPS traffic (if SSL Deep Inspection feature in use), including sensitive information like passwords and session cookies is possible.

If SSL Deep Inspection is enabled, the appliance holds a private key for a Certificate Authority (CA) certificate that is installed/trusted on all workstations in the company. If this private key is compromised by an attacker, arbitrary certificates can be signed.

SEC Consult identified six vulnerabilities with the technology in total, including: cross-site scripting; OS command injection; security misconfiguration; SQL Injection; and cross-site request forgery flaws.

Symantec was notified about the flaw on 22 February but only published a security bulletin last week, on 25 July. Sysadmins should update their technology to Symantec Web Gateway version 5.1.1.

A vanilla statement from Symantec explained that the update was available to customers either directly or through its channel partners.

Symantec learned of potential security issues impacting the Symantec Web Gateway security appliance and has released an update to address them. Symantec Web Gateway 5.1.1, which fully addresses these issues, is currently available to customers through normal support locations. We encourage customers to ensure they are on the latest release of Symantec Web Gateway.

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Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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