Security researchers at eEye Digital Security have discovered a serious flaw in Symantec's enterprise antivirus software that could be used by hackers to create a self-replicating 'worm' attack against Symantec users.
Because Symantec has not yet confirmed the existence of the problem, much less patched it, eEye is offering few details on the vulnerability, which was first disclosed late on Wednesday.
"This is definitely a wormable flaw," said Mike Puterbaugh, eEye's vice-president of marketing. "It does allow you to take remote control of the system."
Similar to viruses, worms are able to spread from computer to computer, and attacks in the past such as 2003's Blaster and Slammer worms were widespread.
Symantec is evaluating eEye's claims and, if necessary, will provide "a prompt response and solution", a Symantec spokesman said yesterday.
eEye chief hacking officer Marc Maiffret believes it will take Symantec "a month or two" to patch the problem. "The vulnerability is pretty straightforward to identify," he said.
Version 10.0 and later of Symantec's enterprise antivirus software is affected by the flaw, but the company's consumer products do not have the bug, Maiffret said.
This is not the first flaw to be reported in Symantec's security products, which have increasingly come under the scrutiny of hackers and security researchers over the past year. Last December, researcher Alex Wheeler discovered a flaw in Symantec's Antivirus Library that could allow remote attackers to gain control of systems that used Symantec's products.
In October a critical flaw was found in the company's Scan Engine software.