A security loophole has been discovered in Norton Anti-Virus (NAV) which could allow the creation of a virus able to shut down the software on a user's machine.
In an advisory available here, Peter Kruse of Scandinavian telco Telia argues that a "very obvious and unsafe registry entry that makes it quite simple to disable NAV 2001".
According to Kruse, if the registry key NAV 2001 is changed in value Norton Anti-Virus startup is disabled, leaving users without any protection against viruses when they restart their machine.
The upshot of this, said Kruse, is that using either a virus or a remote administrator tool, a cracker could take out a Symantec user's antivirus protection, which could be restored only by reinstalling the software or editing the registry entry.
Symantec said the issue was been handled out of its US office and we weren't able to speak to anyone before press (pub) time. According to American reports, however, Symantec has played down the significance of the potential vulnerability by saying it only affects the product's on-demand scanner and not its core real-time scanner, which is called AutoProtect.
Despite this Symantec is taking the issue seriously enough to announce plans that it will change the way Norton AntiVirus uses a PC system's registry starting with NAV 2002.
Previous versions of NAV, Symantec's flagship antivirus product (prior to NAV 2001), were not tested for the vulnerability so it's not known if users of older products are affected by the alleged bug. ®