Norton SystemWorks contains a feature called the Norton Protected Recycle Bin, which resides within the Microsoft Windows Recycler directory. The Norton Protected Recycle Bin includes a directory called NProtect, which is hidden from Windows APIs. Files in the directory might not be scanned during scheduled or manual virus scans. This could potentially provide a location for an attacker to hide a malicious file on a computer.
Symantec has released a product update that will now display the previously hidden NProtect directory in the Windows interface.
Risk Impact Low
Exploit publicly available
Norton SystemWorks Premier
The NProtect directory is used to store temporary copies of files that the user has deleted or modified. This feature supplements the Windows Recycle Bin, creating a temporary backup of certain types of files that the Windows Recycle Bin does not back up. The Norton Protected Recycle Bin allows the user to recover these protected files if they are accidentally deleted.
NProtect is hidden from the Windows FindFirst/FindNext APIs. Since the hidden directory is not visible to Windows, files in the directory might not be scanned during scheduled or manual virus scans. Files in the NProtect directory are scanned by on-access scanners like Symantec's Auto-Protect, and by the on-access scanners of other vendors' products.
When NProtect was first released, hiding its contents helped ensure that a user would not accidentally delete the files in the directory. In light of current techniques used by malicious attackers, Symantec has re-evaluated the value of hiding this directory. We have released an update that will make the NProtect directory visible inside the Windows Recycler directory. With this update, files within the NProtect directory will be scanned by scheduled and manual scans as well as by on-access scanners like Auto-Protect.
The NProtect directory will continue to function as it always has, and users will continue to have the ability to enable or disable the feature through the Norton Protected Recycle Bin user interface.
Symantec product engineers have developed and released an update for products affected by this exposure. The update is available through Symantec LiveUpdate by running a manual update. To manually update via Symantec LiveUpdate, users should:
Open Norton SystemWorks
Click on LiveUpdate
Run LiveUpdate until all available Symantec product updates are downloaded and installed
This update will require a system reboot.
Symantec is not aware of any attempts by hackers to conceal malicious code in the NProtect folder. This update is provided proactively to eliminate the possibility of that type of activity.
As a part of normal best practices, users should keep vendor-supplied patches for all application software and operating systems up-to-date. Symantec recommends customers update their products to protect against any probability of this type of threat.