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Symantec rescinds pcAnywhere remote software security guidance

Company retreats from unusual step of telling customers not to use its product

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Symantec has retracted its don't-use-pcAnywhere recommendation to owners of the remote access software.

Last week, the company took the highly unusual step of telling pcAnywhere users to disable the program based on a 2006 source code leak and this month's claims by members of Anonymous that they were mining the stolen code for vulnerabilities.

Symantec spokesman Brian Modena declined to declare the now-patched pcAnywhere as safe to use when asked that question multiple times, but hinted that the fixes the company has released were sufficient.

"At this time, Symantec recommends that customers ensure pcAnywhere 12.5 is installed, apply all relevant patches as they are released, and follow general security best practices," Modena said. Modena's comment was identical to the phrasing Symantec posted on its website.

Symantec wrapped up patching pcAnywhere 12.5 on January 27, then updated versions 12.0 and 12.1 with more fixes yesterday.

Last week, Symantec said it was unable to predict when it would complete its patching of pcAnywhere, citing the unpredictability of its investigation and the creation of the necessary fixes.

The updates can be manually downloaded from Symantec's website, or customers can use pcAnywhere's built-in updating service to retrieve and install the patches.

Modena also confirmed that customers running versions of pcAnywhere prior to version 12.0 will be offered a free upgrade to 12.5.

"If requested, Symantec will honor an update to version 12.5 for customers using previous versions of the product," said Modena today. To ask for a free upgrade, users should send the company an email at the pcanywhere@symantec.com address.

The 2006 source code breach, which Symantec traced to an attack on its own network, also revealed the underpinnings of other products, including Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition, Norton Internet Security, Norton Utilities and Symantec AntiVirus 10.2.

Customers running those products, however, are not in any danger, Symantec has said, noting that the leak of Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition amounted to less than 5% of the product's source code, and that the code for the other titles was "so old that current out-of-the-box security settings will suffice against any possible threats that might materialise".

Symantec has also said it has not seen any real world attacks that exploited the exposed vulnerabilities in pcAnywhere.

At least one rival has used Symantec's embarrassment to pitch its own product as a pcAnywhere replacement. Today, Laplink Software announced it was cutting special deals for pcAnywhere owners willing to switch to its Laplink Gold.



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