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Adobe mimics Microsoft, issues mega patch update

Fixes Reader zero-day flaw to stymie ongoing PDF attacks, trots out 29 patches

October 13, 2009 06:03 PM ET

Computerworld - Adobe issued a security update today that patched 29 vulnerabilities in its popular PDF viewing and editing applications, most of them bugs that attackers can use to grab control of personal computers.

The update, Adobe's second since it announced that it would patch Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat quarterly -- and on the same day that Microsoft delivers its monthly security updates -- fixed one flaw that hackers have already been using in the wild.

"These vulnerabilities could cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system," Adobe acknowledged in the advisory that accompanied the updates to versions 9.2, 8.1.7 and 7.1.4 of both Reader and Acrobat. "Updates apply to all platforms: Windows, Macintosh and UNIX," the advisory added.

Adobe tagged 13 of the 29 bugs with the phrase "could potentially lead to arbitrary code execution," security-speak for vulnerabilities that could be exploited to hijack a system. Like Apple, but unlike Microsoft, Oracle and other large software vendors, Adobe does not apply a rating system to the flaws it fixes.

Four of the bugs may be exploitable, Adobe confirmed, saying that for the quartet, "arbitrary code execution has not been demonstrated, but may be possible." Many of the rest could be used to crash Reader or Acrobat, but were not likely to lead to a compromised computer.

Last week, Adobe confirmed that one of the vulnerabilities patched today was being exploited using rigged PDF files in "limited targeted attacks," and promised then that it would fix the flaw today.

Since then, several security vendors, including Trend Micro and Sophos, reported that they had captured samples of the malformed PDFs. Trend Micro's analysis noted that the malicious PDF includes embedded JavaScript that utilizes "heap spraying" to compromise the machine, then extracts an also-embedded backdoor Trojan which is planted on the system.



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