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Symantec reveals that code-stealing hackers attempted extortion

Warwick Ashford

A month after confirming that hackers had stolen a segment of its source code, Symantec has revealed that the hackers tried to extort money in exchange for keeping source code private.

The revelation comes as hackers published emails from US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents posing a Symantec employee to "offer" the hackers $50,000.

Symantec said it had contacted US law enforcement after being approached by the hackers, and FBI agents had posed as a Symantec employee.

The agents held lengthy email discussions with members of India-based hacker groups, the Lords of Dharmaraja, which is believed to be part of hacktivist group Anonymous.

After the negotiations seemed to stall, Anonymous claimed that more than a gigabyte of source code from the Symantec’s PC Anywhere software had been published online, according to the BBC.

Symantec has not confirmed the claim, but at the end of January, the security firm warned businesses to stop using its PC Anywhere software until security patches are issued. Symantec said the product was vulnerable due to an earlier theft of source code by hackers.

The company confirmed that "old" source code stolen by the hackers had exposed vulnerabilities in the program which allows remote access to computers.

Other software affected includes Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition, Norton Internet Security and Norton Systemworks.

In January, Symantec emphasised that the code involved was four and five years old and did not affect the company’s Norton products for consumers.


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