Symantec Corp. Users Assert Data Protection Flaws in Some Norton Products By Tod Aronovitz | 05/03/13 | 0 Comment

A new class action lawsuit filed against Symantec Corp. claims that the company hid a 2006 data breach in which hackers stole source code for certain versions of its flagship Norton antivirus software.

Often the cornerstone of software manufacturers, the source code is usually heavily guarded and kept secret to prevent rivals from creating their own technologies and hackers from planning attacks. According to the complaint, customers paid for products that didn’t deliver their advertised promise of protection as a result of the compromise in data.

Lead plaintiff Kathleen Haskins contends that the computer security software giant suspected the infiltration, but only admitted to it after hackers revealed the theft in early 2012. Class members also allege the company did not take any proactive measures to protect the security and functionality of the software it sold during that time. As a result, customers unknowingly placed their personally identifiable information at risk for theft and misuse, and paid more for the computer and data security software than it was worth, the class action asserted.

The class action lawsuit affects all U.S. persons or entities that purchased, leased and/or licensed pcAnywhere, Norton SystemWorks (Norton Utilities and Norton GoBack), Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition and/or Norton Internet Security Software containing all or a portion of the 2006 version of the source codes for such products.

Class members are seeking actual damages, punitive damages, restitution, injunctive relief and more for alleged breach of contract, breach of warranty, and various state consumer and business laws.

It is also suspected there may be a potential for hackers to use the stolen source code to figure out how to defeat some of the proprietary protections in Symantec’s software. In addition, customers of pcAnywhere, a program that facilitates remote access of PCs, may face “a slightly increased security risk” as a result of the exposure, according to Symantec.

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