New zero-day exploit targets Adobe Reader

Adobe says it's looking into the JavaScript bug

Adobe Systems Inc. Tuesday confirmed that it's investigating reports that its popular PDF viewing software, Adobe Reader, contains a critical vulnerability.

A security researcher said that the bug is another in a long line of flaws in Adobe's implementation of JavaScript.

The bug was first disclosed Monday on the SecurityFocus site, which posted a link to proof-of-concept attack code. "An attacker can exploit this issue to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running the application," said the advisory.

According to SecurityFocus, the most up-to-date versions, Reader 9.1 and Reader 8.1.4, are vulnerable. The Linux versions definitely have the bug, and other platforms -- Adobe also provides Reader for Windows and the Mac -- may be at risk as well.

For its part, Adobe's acknowledgement was brief. "Adobe is aware of reports of a potential vulnerability in Adobe Reader 9.1 and 8.1.4," said David Lenoe, the company's security program manager, in a security blog entry. "We are currently investigating, and will have an update once we get more information."

An Adobe spokesman declined to answer questions about the bug, saying that all the company had to offer at the moment was Lenoe's comments. More information, he promised, would be published to the blog, or to Adobe's security advisory page.

The short confirmation was reminiscent of Adobe's admission two months ago when it said Reader contained one or more bugs. In that incident, attackers had been exploiting the vulnerability for as many as six weeks, possibly more.

Adobe patched that flaw, and several others, starting on March 10, fixing first Reader 9, then working its way down to Reader 8 and even older versions at one-week intervals.

"This is very similar to February," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc. "They've had a long rash of problems with JavaScript, and again we're seeing what looks like a JavaScript vulnerability."

Storms, who has been critical of Adobe -- last year he said the company suffered from an "epidemic" of JavaScript vulnerabilities -- again blasted its security efforts.

"It's time that Adobe stepped up to the challenge," he said, adding that Adobe was a good example of a company that should try to emulate Microsoft Corp.'s approach to security. "This is another proof-of-concept that's been made public," Storms said. "It's in stark contrast to Microsoft, which somehow manages to get most people to report vulnerabilities responsibly."

While some security experts have recommended users switch to alternate PDF viewers -- Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure Corp.'s chief research officer, is perhaps the most prominent -- Storms was unwilling to name a replacement. "There's always an up side and a down side," he said. "The Adobe line is really intended for the enterprise, and you may not get that in other products. But with the long rash of vulnerabilities with Adobe products, you have to ask yourself, 'Is it worth it to support Adobe?'"

Symantec Corp., which had discovered in-the-wild exploits targeting that earlier vulnerability more than a week before Adobe owned up to the bug, was not able to immediately respond to questions about whether its honeypot network had found any rigged PDFs leveraging this new flaw.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags adobejavascriptsymantecbugsf-securencircle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?