Adobe breaks silence on February's PDF bugs
Flaws' severity may have prompted silence, researcher speculates
Computerworld - Three months after acknowledging multiple vulnerabilities in its popular Reader software and then patching the program, Adobe Systems Inc. yesterday finally provided some details about the bugs.
In a security bulletin issued Tuesday, Adobe listed eight vulnerabilities -- most of them critical -- that it patched in early February when it released Reader 8.1.2 and Acrobat 8.1.2. At the time, Adobe had only said it fixed "a number of ... security vulnerabilities" in the two programs; it did not specify how many flaws were fixed, what they were or how attackers might exploit them.
Reader is one of the world's most popular pieces of software, since it's both free and the default PDF viewer for many users.
Even though Adobe disclosed some information about the bugs it fixed in February, the bulletin was still terse. It did not spell out possible attack vectors or even rate the bugs. "These vulnerabilities would cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system," was about as far as the bulletin ventured.
Storms agreed that the three-month lag between patching the vulnerabilities and divulging some details was extreme, but he noted that many of the flaws went back farther than February. "Some were apparently disclosed [to Adobe by researchers] in late 2007," he said. "There's one from November, and others from September and October."
Some information about the vulnerabilities had already been publicly reported by the researchers who uncovered them -- for instance, VeriSign Inc.'s iDefense unit posted three bulletins in February. But other researchers waited until this week.
Adobe did acknowledge in Tuesday's security bulletin that there have been reports of in-the-wild exploits of at least one of the eight bugs, but the company stopped short of confirming the fact.
Those attacks, said Storms today, could still be effective, even though Reader and Acrobat have been patched. "We don't have statistics on how many people are still stuck on the Reader 7 code base," he aid.
Reader 8.1.2 can be downloaded from the Adobe Web site or retrieved using the updater bundled with the program.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
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