Hackers exploit newest Flash zero-day bug
Adobe confirms attacks using rigged PDFs, promises fixes next month as more problems plague Flash, Reader
Computerworld - Adobe today confirmed that hackers are exploiting a critical unpatched bug in Flash Player, and promised to patch the vulnerability in two weeks.
The company issued a security advisory that also named Adobe Reader and Acrobat as vulnerable.
"There are reports that this vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild against Adobe Reader and Acrobat," said Adobe in its warning. The company said it's seen no sign that hackers are also targeting Flash Player itself.
Those reports came from Mila Parkour, an independent security researcher who notified Adobe early today after spotting and then analyzing a malicious PDF file. According to Parkour, the rigged PDF document exploits the Flash bug in Reader, then drops a Trojan horse and other malware on the victimized machine.
Adobe said that all versions of Flash on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android harbored the bug, and that the "Authplay" component of Reader and Acrobat 9.x and earlier also contained the flaw. Authplay is the interpreter that renders Flash content embedded within PDF files.
Last month, Parkour uncovered a bug in Reader's font-rendering technology that was exploited by attack campaigns using bogus messages from renowned golf coach David Leadbetter as click bait.
Today's vulnerability, however, is more reminiscent of one reported in June that also involved Authplay. Adobe issued an emergency patch for Flash Player within a week, and followed with a fix for Reader and Acrobat two weeks later.
Adobe will patch this newest bug in a similar fashion. Today it promised to issue a fix for Flash by Nov. 9, and updates for Reader and Acrobat the following week.
Danish vulnerability tracker Secunia ranked the Flash flaw as "extremely critical," its highest threat ranking, and said criminals could use it to compromise systems and execute malicious code.
Security experts have regularly criticized Adobe Flash's security, with some questioning the company's decision to integrate the media player's capabilities within the almost-as-popular Reader. Adobe has countered those arguments with its own, saying that many users rely on the functionality.
Until a patch is available, users can protect themselves from active attacks by deleting the "authplay.dll" file that ships with Reader and Acrobat. It gave the same advice in June when the earlier Flash vulnerability was reported.
Dumping authplay.dll, however, will crash Reader and Acrobat or produce an error message when the software opens a PDF file containing Flash content.
Today's Flash flaw disclosure was the second Adobe's acknowledged since the technology was ported to Google's Android operating system two months ago.
Although Adobe tries to hew to a quarterly patch schedule for Reader and Acrobat, it's repeatedly been forced to scuttle those plans to issue rush fixes for critical bugs. The next regularly-scheduled Reader update was not supposed to land until Feb. 8, 2011.
At times, Adobe has abandoned scheduled Reader updates after shipping an "out-of-band" patch, but that's unlikely here as the company is in the early days of its next patch cycle.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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