On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned the public against the risks of using a very popular brand of computer antivirus solution. The agency noted that Norton and Symantec computer security tools come with critical holes which hackers could exploit to enter into users’ systems.
The federal officials said that the problem with the two antivirus products is widespread as Symantec is the fifth most used cyber security tool in the world. It currently protects about 1 million computers including those in government and healthcare networks.
Government researchers explained that Symantec can actually help cyber criminals take control over a system because users are asked to allow the software gain access to sensitive data on their computers in exchange of malware protection.
However, the permissions can be exploited by malicious software which can thus easier spread through a computer network. For instance, it is a simple as clicking on a link to a compromised website or on a suspicious e-mail to get the virus.
The federal agencies reported that other antivirus solutions surveyed in the latest analysis didn’t permit malware get into people’s systems as Symantec did.
The security flaws were first spotted and reported by Tavis Ormandy, who is a member of the Google’s elite security team “Project Zero.” He reported the problem on his blog last week.
“These vulnerabilities are as bad as it gets,”
He added that the flaws are so serious that they could help hackers compromise a company’s entire fleet of computers. He told Symantec about the flaws about a couple of months ago, but the security firm issued some patches to fix the problems last week.
Last week, Symantec announced in a blog post that more fixes and patches to solve the issues were on the way. On the other hand, cyber security experts are not convinced that all users will update their software before some major breaches emerge.
Other antivirus solutions and computer security products are also riddled with errors as companies are more interested in fixing popular software and often overlook the tools that ensure the protection of their computer systems.
Jack Daniel, another computer expert, noted that ironically a user can make their system less secure if he or she installs a Symantec product on the computer.
Symantec recently said that there were no reports of hackers using the security flaws to enter its customers’ computers.
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