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Symantec advises users to avoid pcAnywhere as 'code hack' story persists

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Symantec customers who use its pcAnywhere software have been advised to disable it.

According to Reuters, Symantec said customers are at increased risk of being hacked since the blueprints to the software were stolen.

PcAnywhere is a program that is bundled with some titles in Symantec's Altiris line of software for managing corporate PCs, Symantec said in a whitepaper and note to customers released on its website.

This announcement is the company's most direct acknowledgement to date that a 2006 theft of its source code put customers at risk of attack. Previously, company spokesman Cris Paden said customers of the products faced no threat if they were using the most recent versions, with one exception: he said users of pcAnywhere might face "a slightly increased security risk" as a result of the exposure.

However, in a whitepaper published early on Wednesday morning, the company indicated that the situation may be more serious. “At this time, Symantec recommends disabling the product until Symantec releases a final set of software updates that resolve currently known vulnerability risks," it said.

In a security advisory, Symantec said anti-virus and endpoint security customers, including those running Norton products, should not be in any increased danger of cyber attack resulting from the incident.

However, it recommended upgrading to the latest version of Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP 12.1 RU1), as analysis showed that the code theft does not require organisations to accelerate an upgrade to SEP 12.1.

It admitted that current analysis shows that users of pcAnywhere versions 12.0, 12.1, 12.5 and earlier are at increased risk, and advised users to follow general security best practices as well as configure pcAnywhere in a way that minimises potential risks.

“Symantec also recommends that customers only use pcAnywhere for business-critical purposes,” it said.

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