Adobe: We know we're hackers' favorite target
But it's making the right moves to shut the door on attackers, say experts
Computerworld - Adobe knows there's a target on its back. But it's OK with that.
"We're in the security spotlight right now," said Brad Arkin, Adobe's director for product security and privacy, in an interview this week. "There's no denying that the security community is really focused on ubiquitous third-party products like ours. We're cross-platform, on all these different kinds of devices, so yes, we're in the spotlight."
Arkin's right: Some Adobe software, especially the free Adobe Reader PDF viewer and the also-free Flash media player, are not only in the security spotlight but also in hackers' cross hairs.
According to Finnish antivirus company F-Secure, 61% of all targeted attacks -- ones purposefully aimed at specific individuals or businesses to break into company networks -- in the first two months of 2010 exploited a bug in Reader. Rival security firm McAfee, meanwhile, estimated that 28% of all exploit-carrying malware in the first quarter of this year leveraged a Reader vulnerability.
Arkin may not be happy that his company's software has become popular with the wrong crowd -- hackers, identity and information thieves, and other cybercriminals -- but he sees a silver lining.
"We're getting more bug reports than we were a year ago," Arkin said, referring to the information that security researchers submit to Adobe when they believe they've uncovered a software vulnerability. "That's a function of the fact that we have ubiquitous software and the complete attention from the security community. And that means there are a lot more eyeballs on us than on other software that does the same things [as Reader and Flash]."
And Arkin welcomes those eyeballs.
"We're thrilled when someone shares [vulnerability] information with us responsibly," he said, referring to bug reports submitted privately, thus giving a vendor time to patch the problem before news about it is released publicly. "That's one less potential vulnerability that could be used by the bad guys."
Adobe is doing more than waiting for bug reports, said Arkin, who pointed to the security moves the company has made in the past year.
Among those changes: an increased emphasis throughout the company on writing more-secure code, an improved update tool for Adobe Reader, faster response to zero-day vulnerability disclosures, and some new -- and upcoming -- security features within Reader.
Adobe now develops code under what it calls its Secure Product Lifecycle (SPLC), an approach similar to Microsoft's much-better-known Software Development Lifecycle (SDL), which involves several security-specific steps that programmers go through to make their software less likely to harbor bugs.
"The [SPLC] impact has been huge," said Arkin. "At this point, my central security team doesn't do any of the actual work. We just prod and evangelize throughout the company. Now the product [development] teams understand the motivations behind what we're asking for."
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- Top Tips for Securing Big Data Environments: Why Big Data Doesn't Have to Mean Big Security Challenges Organizations must come to terms with the security challenges they introduce. As big data environments ingest more data, organizations will face significant risks...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!