Symantec data leak, too many doubts on the assumption of extortion

Pierluigi Paganini February 08, 2012

The story is familiar to all, the Source Code, the Source code of property of Symantec company has been stolen and it has been object of negotiation between the group of hacker responsible of the crime and law enforcement agents who have acted to protect the company. Conclusion of the negotiation is that the precious sorce code has been exposed because of lack of agreement between the parties. The group is responsible for exposing source code of the 2006 version of Symantec’s Norton antivirus, as well as publishing documents that demonstrate that the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) was possibly breached.

The hacker group known as the Lords of Dharamaja, linked to most famous group of hacktivist Anonymous, leaked another 1.27 gigabytes of source code from Symantec in the night of February 6th, claiming that is the source code of the Symantec program PCAnywhere.

We recall that Symantec had warned users of Symantec PCAnywhere to disable the it until they solved any possible exposure problems. The history we have become accustomed to constant upheaval faced since the beginning, press releases and denials are not missed because of the severity of what happened. The mystery this time focused on the content of an email made ​​public by hackers, who shows that Symantec staffer have Offered to the group of hackers to 50,000 USD not to Disclose the source code-and-drop silence on the incident.

The Email has-been published on pastebin Seems to be sent by Mr. Such a Sam Thomas.

“We can pay you $2,500 per month for the first three months”
“In exchange, you will make a public statement on behalf of your group that you lied about the hack. Once that’s done, we will pay the rest of the $50,000 to your account and you can take it all out at once. That should solve your problem.”

The hacker YamaTough have replyed on twitter to the offer saying:
“You won’t believe it but Symantec offered us money to keep quiet,”
“And quess what they couldn’t make it over 50k for the whole range of their src shit, therefore the show starts as of tuday.”

Symantec has annouced that it never made any offer to the group of hackers, and the person of “Sam Thomas”, according to the declaration of Symantec spokesperson Cris Paden, was a fake identity used by law enforcement agents to conduct the the negotiations. For the curious result of some research on the header of the mail sent to the group of hackers.

“Anonymous has been talking to law enforcement, not to us,” Paden says. “No money was exchanged, and there was never going to be any money exchanged. It was all an effort to gather information for the investigation.”

Since early January The Lords of Dharamaja have announced to be in possess of the source code of several Symantec products and according to the information provided by Symantec the hackers sent several emails to request money to not to publish the product’s source code.

My personal opinion is that there is definitely something unusual in the operation of hacker linked to the Anonymous organization. The group so far has always acted with political reasons but this time we are faced with an extortion attempt. This case raises many doubts in me about the real responsibility of the event.

I believe that YamaTough’s purpose was totaly different, to confirm my conviction I invite all to read the interview provided by the hacker to Infosec Island. It is clear that the operation has a purpose of mediatic propaganga to catch attention from the media to the current situation of government of India.

“…my team is pro US, we fight for rights in our country we are not intentionally harm US companies (sometimes we do hack into since our botnet is worldwide) but we do not steal credit cards and make money of it and we do not do banks etc. Our mission – exposure of the corruption… We wanna apologize for harm taken by the Symantec USCC and others, but without them being involved things which do occur in our state would never be covered and taken to the public, sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to achieve… and we do not approve sharing personal data and source codes with foreign governments. We want free and nice India and not police state,”

YamaTough via Twitter has clarified that the stolen source code was now available for purchase on the black market: “All the Symantec source codes are now on sale! PcAnywhere, System Works, Internet Security and Norton GoBack with Utilities, NAV”.

Symantec has therefore entrusted to the police by providing any relevant information to the investigation, the law enforcement has commenced negotiations with the group of hackers but after some exchanges YamaTough perceiving external intervention has decided to post the code. According the spokesman Paden the company is analyzing the exposed code meantime it has released a patches for PCAnywhere product to protect its customers.

“We’re able to say with high confidence, any type of cyber attacks generated by this attack would have old characteristics and look like an attack from 2006 that can easily be stopped using current versions of our solutions,” he says. “Our customers are protected.”

Answer to those who expressed such certainty that the customers were and had to be protected even before the accident. Nothing can be considered safe, and Symantec understands that security is a tradeoff between benefits obtained and spending on security systems. We are in a pejorative situation, we now know that the source was stolen from the company, we have witnessed the questionable media management of the event and finally we are aware that some information from that course code can be retrieved. I have over 20 years experience in the development and analysis of information technology solutions and certainlycan say tha the source code represent a pool of privileged information to those attempting to analyze the design of a solution.
We truly believe that customers are safe?

Let’s pay attention, because according to the revelations of the group, the hackers are in possession of sensitive data belonging other major companies that could be exposed in the future. Even more alarming element is that today the industry has shown itself vulnerable to this kind of attacks that might offend in the future critical infrastructures instead of private products with disastrous consequences.


Pierluigi Paganini


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