Avast, AVG release security updates for decade-old vulnerability

SentinelOne disclosed two high-severity vulnerabilities – tracked as CVE-2022-26522 and CVE-2022-26523 – that went undiscovered for years and affect the “Anti Rootkit” driver in security products from Avast and AVG. 

The two anti-virus companies joined forces in 2016 when Avast bought AVG for about $1.3 billion. NortonLifeLock announced in 2021 that it reached an agreement to merge with the Czech antivirus maker in a stock-based deal that could be worth between $8.1 billion to $8.6 billion.

On December 20, SentinelOne notified Avast of the two vulnerabilities that could lead to privilege escalation “by running code in the kernel from a non-administrator user.” 

“According to Avast, the vulnerable feature was introduced in Avast 12.1. Given the longevity of this flaw, we estimate that millions of users were likely exposed,” Sentinel One explained. Avast 12.1 was released in early 2012.

“While we haven’t seen any indicators that these vulnerabilities have been exploited in the wild up till now, with dozens of millions of users affected, it is possible that attackers will seek out those that do not take the appropriate action.”

Avast acknowledged the SentinelOne report in January and in a statement to The Record, Avast said a fix for the vulnerabilities was in version 22.1 that was released in February. 

“Avast and AVG users were automatically updated and are protected against any risk of exploitation, although we have not seen the vulnerabilities abused in the wild,” a spokesperson for the company said. 

SentinelOne noted that while many users get automatic updates, those “using air gapped or on premise installations are advised to apply the patch as soon as possible.”

The security company explained that the vulnerabilities could be exploitable in contexts beyond just local privilege escalation, adding that they could be used as part of a second stage browser attack or to perform a sandbox escape. 

“As we have noted with similar flaws in other products recently, such vulnerabilities have the potential to allow complete take over of a device, even without privileges, due to the ability to execute code in kernel mode. Among the obvious abuses of such vulnerabilities are that they could be used to bypass security products,” they said. 

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig

is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.