Google first to patch Flash bug with Chrome update

Takes advantage of deal with Adobe to push zero-day fix a week before others get protection

Google on Tuesday updated Chrome, patching a flaw in the browser's copy of Flash Player.

The move let Chrome beat rival browsers to the punch: Users of Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Safari and Opera won't receive a Flash update from Adobe until next week.

On Monday, Adobe announced that attackers are exploiting an unpatched, or "zero-day," vulnerability in Flash Player using malicious Microsoft Excel documents attached to e-mail messages. Adobe said it would patch Flash Player for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux sometime next week, but did not put a date on the calendar.

Yesterday, Google pushed a Chrome update to users running the stable and beta builds of the browser.

"This release contains an updated version of the Adobe Flash player," Jason Kersey, a Chrome program manager, said in a Tuesday post to a Google blog.

After updating Chrome to version 10.0.648.134, the browser reports that it's running Flash Player 10.2.154.25, a step up from the 10.2.154.18 bundled with the last update of the browser.

Adobe confirmed today that Chrome's integrated copy of Flash includes the patch for the zero-day vulnerability.

"As part of our collaboration with Google, Google receives updated builds of Flash Player for integration and testing," said Adobe spokeswoman Wiebke Lipps today. "Once testing is completed for Google Chrome, the release is pushed via the Chrome auto-update mechanism."

Adobe is still testing the patched Flash Player across its full list of supported platforms, which range from Windows and Mac OS X to Linux and Android, Lipps said.

Google has been including fixes for Flash Player in its Chrome updates since April 2010. Chrome is the only browser to automatically update Flash Player with its own patch mechanism.

Chrome users have gotten the jump on others before when it comes to Flash fixes. Last September, for example, Google updated the browser, and delivered a patched Flash Player, three days before Adobe.

Chrome 10.0.648.134 with the patched Flash Player can be downloaded can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Google's Web site. Users already running the browser will be updated automatically.

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 gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Topic Center.

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Gregg Keizer

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