Last week, Symantec Corp. issued an announcement that all users of their pcAnywhere software should disable it until further notice. An Indian hacker affiliated with Anonymous going by the handle YamaTough had released the source code to Symantec’s Norton Utilities PC software, and the software company foresaw a risk to all users of pcAnywhere.
The release of the source code had been trumpeted by Anonymous on January 4.
Symantec Norton Antivirus source code published by indian hackers pastebin.com/ciExRzr3“
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) January 4, 2012
Upon news of Symantec’s announcement, Anonymous did a victory dance on Twitter.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) January 26, 2012
With middle-finger flourish, Symantec responded that Anonymous had not stolen their code. But, they did recognize that it was in the hands of Anonymous now.
Yesterday, Symantec announced a patch and free upgrade to all pcAnywhere customers, even those not normally eligible for an upgrade. This move effectively renders Anonymous’ possession of its code a moot point.
So, what is the purpose of grabbing and releasing code for a product when a quick patch release prevents its use? To make Symantec dance in public for a couple of days?
There has been a lawsuit filed against Symantec, alleging that the company scares people into buying its software by making misleading claims about the health of their computers. The lawsuit is filed by private parties, not affiliated with Anonymous.
We would love to hear from Anonymous about what purpose their actions serve. Is there something inherently evil about Symantec that they wish to highlight? About the (bloated) Norton Utilities software? Is it related to the lawsuit? What public statement does this make? If Symantec ends up being seen by the public as victims of unscrupulous hackers (as opposed to being seen as bumbling in its own security), does that mean the move backfired?
In contrast with all the laudable moves Anonymous has made in the past year or so (e.g. support of activists in Tahrir, support of Wikileaks, support of the #Occupy movement), why should the general public not see this as a mean-spirited adolescent prank?