Once an occasional inconvenience, serious security bugs and vulnerabilities in anti-virus and security suite products are growing into hardy perennials.
Once, running Windows anti-virus was like driving down a dual carriageway. These days, it's more like an unpaved road.
Last week alone bought a confirmed snag with anti-virus products from Kaspersky Lab and a reported oddity with an update Norton anti-virus from Symantec. Elsewhere an allegedly long running flaw in anti-virus scanner from F-Prot was published for the first time.
The Kaspersky bug had the potential to result in serious annoyance. The other bugs are less serious and individually don't amount to much, but collectively, they're enough to make you reach for an Ubuntu installation CD or start looking on eBay for a Mac.
First up, let's consider a misfiring definition update for Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 for Windows Workstations, which sent users into pop-up hell. It was issued on 31 March, and it wasn't resolved until 2 April.
"The update caused Anti-Hacker to continually produce allow/deny dialogues for PIDs [process identifiers] long gone e.g. svchost.exe, LUCOM (Symantec Live update)," a Reg who told us about the problem explained. "This effectively makes the PC useless as you can't do anything without clicking 20+ times on the dialogue."
In response to our queries, Kaspersky issued a statement confirming the glitch.
Kaspersky Lab announces that an error has been detected in the mechanism that checks the hash sums of executable files in the latest update of Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Windows Workstations 6.0 released on 31 March. This module optimizes the scan process.
The error has the following after-effects:
* All files that are executed on the client PC and that perform network activity are considered by Anti-Hacker as "modified" and a dialog window pops-up to "allow/deny" this process. * Computer operation is visibly slow.
The errors were isolated and an automatic update to resolve the problem was released on 2 April. In order to install the released update, anti-virus databases should be updated with the option Update application modules enabled. After PC restart Anti-Hacker will once show a dialog window "allow/deny" for some processes.
Kaspersky Lab would like to apologize for any inconvenience this problem may have caused users
Elsewhere reports on Norton's support forums on Saturday (4 April) suggest a Symantec update killed right click menu on PCs running Windows Vista. We brought the thread to Symantec's attention earlier this afternoon and wait the security giant response to the odd, not to say bizarre, reported glitch with interest.
Moving on past glitches there's also straightforward security vulnerabilities to consider. A flaw in F-Prot involving the scanning of Zip files allegedly creates a possible method to circumvent anti-virus protection. Security researcher Thierry Zoller, who discovered the vulnerability, went public with the flaw on 2 April after F-Prot failed to act for a reported four years.
Zoller also published two other advisories last week, each covering problems with enterprise products and scanning archived files. Malicious RAR archives might make their way past IBM Proventia email security appliances, according to Zoller. He published a limited details advisory after not hearing from IBM for a month. IBM is reportedly investigating the issue.
Clam AntiVirus, the open source anti-virus toolkit for UNIX, which is used to scan email on mail gateways for Windows viruses, also had a problem with RAR files. That problem was plugged late last month but only publicised by Zoller with an advisory last week. ®