Adobe patches PDF bugs hackers already exploiting
Fixes 17 flaws in Reader and Acrobat, gets kudos for rush job
Computerworld - Adobe on Tuesday patched 17 critical vulnerabilities in Reader and Acrobat, including one that hackers have been using for nearly a month to commandeer PCs.
Another patch fixed a design flaw in the PDF format that attackers have been exploiting since April to dupe users into downloading a Trojan horse.
Adobe rushed the security update, which was originally slated to ship July 13, because exploit code went public and attacks using rigged PDF documents started showing on antivirus vendors' reporting systems four weeks ago. The company patched Flash -- hackers were tricking people into visiting malicious sites, then using the same bug to launch drive-by attacks -- on June 10.
Sixteen of the 17 fixed flaws were labeled with the phrase "could lead to code execution" in Adobe's advisory, the company's way of saying that the bug was critical and could be used to hijack machines. Like Apple, and unlike Microsoft, Adobe doesn't rate the severity of the vulnerabilities it patches. The seventeenth patch was also likely critical: "Arbitrary code execution has not been demonstrated, but may be possible," the advisory read.
Another fix addressed a design problem in the PDF document format that could be leveraged to con users into downloading malware. The bug, which was not strictly a security vulnerability, was first disclosed by Belgium researcher Didier Stevens in late March. Stevens demonstrated how a multi-stage attack using the PDF specification's "/Launch" function could successfully exploit a fully-patched copy of Adobe Reader. Stevens also showed how a Reader warning could be changed to further fool users.
Hackers have been using Stevens' technique in mass attacks to infect Windows PCs with bot Trojans.
With the updates to versions 9.3.3 and 8.2.3, Adobe changed Reader and Acrobat so that the /Launch function was disabled by default -- in earlier editions it had been turned on -- and fixed the bug in the warning dialog so hackers couldn't modify it. "Today's update includes changes to resolve the misuse of this command," said Steve Gottwals, an Adobe group product manager, on a company blog. "We added functionality to block any attempts to launch an executable or other harmful objects by default. We also altered the way the existing warning dialog works to thwart the known social engineering attacks."
Stevens confirmed the fixes in a post to his blog Tuesday. "Not only is the dialog box fixed, but the /Launch action is also disabled by default," he said.
Five of the 17 bugs Adobe patched Tuesday were reported by Tavis Ormandy, the Google security engineer who was at the center of a brouhaha earlier this month after he publicly disclosed a vulnerability in Windows when Microsoft wouldn't commit to a patching deadline.
- Securing Mobile App Data - Comparing Containers and App Wrappers Analysts agree that Mobile Device Management (MDM) is not enough when it comes to securing app data. Although it remains a critical component...
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- Mitigating Security Risks at the Networks Edge This white paper provides strategies and best practices for distributed enterprises to protect their networks against vulnerabilities, threats, and malicious attacks.
- 5 Strategies for Modern Data Protection Read the five strategies for modern data protection that will not only help solve your current data management challenges but also ensure that...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... 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!