Hackers exploit unpatched Adobe Reader bug
Expect attacks to spread before Adobe issues patch, say researchers
Computerworld - Hackers have been exploiting a critical bug in Adobe Reader, the popular PDF-viewing software, for at least nine days, researchers said Friday, but a patch may not be ready for another three weeks.
Attacks have been spotted in Asia, primarily in Japan, said Haley, as well as in a few other countries. But their small number led him to characterize them as "targeted," meaning the victims had been specially selected.
"But this [bug] is not hard to exploit," he added, indicating that Symantec expects the attacks to spread.
So does Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc. "If the history of Adobe Reader vulnerabilities shows us anything, it's probably just a number of days before this takes off," Storms said.
In a security advisory released yesterday, Adobe acknowledged the bug and the ongoing attacks, and said that both Reader and Acrobat, an advanced PDF-creation and edit application, are vulnerable. Versions 7, 8 and 9 of both programs, and on all platforms, contain the flaw, the company confirmed. Adobe Reader, by far the more popular of the two applications, is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Adobe plans to patch Reader 9 and Acrobat 9 -- the most current versions -- by March 11, and will then follow with fixes for Reader/Acrobat 8 and Reader/Acrobat 7, in that order. It did not spell out a timetable for updates to Versions 7 and 8, however.
In the meantime, both Haley and Storms expect hackers to take advantage of the bug, possibly by integrating new attack code into the multistrike exploit kits that are frequently used by cybercriminals to launch attacks against users who are duped into visiting malicious Web sites. "There's no reason to think that that won't happen," he said. "Reader is a very popular application."
The in-the-wild attacks trigger the bug with a Trojan horse that Symantec has pegged "Pidief.e," which then installs several additional components to open a backdoor on the compromised computer. That backdoor can later be used to inject additional malware into the machine.
Attacks could be initiated by spam messages that trick users into clicking through to a malicious site, or by packing exploit code in a file attachment.
Adobe Reader and Acrobat are no strangers to exploits. Last November, attackers jumped on a just-patched vulnerability in Reader 8.1.3 within days.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts