The anti-virus vendor acknowledged that it was deliberately hiding a directory from Windows APIs as a feature to stop customers from accidentally deleting files but, prompted by warnings from security experts, the company shipped a SystemWorks update to eliminate the risk.
Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif., is the second commercial company caught in the flap over the use of rootkit-type techniques to hide files on computers. Rootkits are programs that are used to give a remote user access to a compromised system while avoiding detection from security scanners.
A spokesman for Symantec referenced the Sony flap in a statement sent to eWEEK, but downplayed the risk to consumers. "In light of current techniques used by today's malicious attackers, Symantec re-evaluated the value of hiding the [previously cloaked] directory. Though the chance of an attacker using [it] as a possible attack vector is extremely slim, Symantec's update further protects computers by displaying the directory," the spokesman said.
He explained that the feature, called Norton Protected Recycle Bin, was built into Norton SystemWorks with a director called NProtect that is hidden from Windows APIs. Because it is cloaked, files in the NProtect directory might not be scanned during scheduled or manual virus scans.
A couple of years ago, I dumped Norton because I didn't like what Symantec was doing to users of their products. Seeing things like this just helps to reinforce that decision :-/