McAfee fixing spamming bug in anti-malware softwareFri 27 Jan, 2012 // Briony Williams
McAfee, the prominent anti-malware software firm, has been fixing a flaw discovered in its software that would allow a spammer to use an infected machine to send floods of spam emails.
The flaw was found in McAfee’s “SaaS for Total Protection” cloud-based anti-malware software. The flaw crucially depended on the software’s “Rumor Service”, intended to deliver security updates to customers’ computers. The hackers who have exploited this flaw have been able to use it to turn an affected computer into a “mail relay”, so that spam emails appear to come from that computer rather than the true originator. This successfully obscures the spammer’s identity.
The effect of this exploit is to tie up resources on the infected computer while floods of spam email messages are being sent. A more long-term danger is the risk of having the victims’ email addresses blacklisted by major email servers, so that victims cannot send email successfully.
The exploit was discovered by the small UK-based firm Kaamar Ltd a few days ago, when they found that their mail server had sent out in just one day the equivalent of ten months’ worth of normal email traffic for their firm.
McAfee have been testing a newly-created patch for this security flaw, and it will be available to customers through its usual channels by January 20th.
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