The problem lies in Kaspersky's antivirus library, security researcher Alex Wheeler wrote in an advisory (download PDF of advisory here). The vulnerability likely affects multiple Kaspersky products on various platforms because the library is used throughout the company's consumer and corporate software, he said.
Additionally, third-party products that use Kaspersky's antivirus technology could also be vulnerable, Wheeler said.
A remote attacker could exploit the heap overflow flaw by sending a malformed CAB file--a compression file--to a vulnerable system, the French Security Incident Response Team said in an advisory. The CAB file could be sent in an e-mail, for example, and once the Kaspersky antivirus scanner had accepted it, the malicious code would be in the system. No user interaction is required, Wheeler said. FrSirt describes the issue as "critical," its highest rating.
A representative for Kaspersky in Moscow could not immediately comment on the issue and said that the Russian company would need to investigate.
Antivirus software is like low-hanging fruit to hackers, Yankee Group analysts wrote in a research paper released earlier this year. As the pool of easily exploitable security bugs in Microsoft Windows dries up, attackers are looking to security software for holes to get into systems, the analysts said.
At the Black Hat Briefings security conference this summer, researchers at Internet Security Systems outlined vulnerabilities in antivirus products. ISS has discovered bugs in products from security software makers including Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and F-Secure.