Saturday, February 21, 2009

Adobe Reader/Acrobat Vuln

Adobe just released a security bulletin (Adobe APSA09-01, US-CERT TA09-051A) regarding Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat versions 9.0 and earlier.  The vulnerability involves malicious JavaScript which can be embedded in a PDF document which has the ability to execute arbitrary code on your system.

In order to prevent people from getting attacked by this, current suggestions are that you disable the displaying of JavaScript in PDFs as well as disable the automatic rendering of PDFs in your browser.  If your browser is set up to display PDFs automatically, visiting a malicious website may be all that an attacker needs to install malicious software on your computer.

My recommendation is that you trash Adobe Reader altogether if you use it and get Foxit Reader.  If you use Adobe Acrobat, I believe Foxit has a version which can be used to edit PDFs as well.

I have used Foxit Reader for several years now and find it a much better replacement for your everyday PDF reading needs.  It is extremely light weight, no crappy auto-updater, has browser integration, and can be downloaded as a single executable (at least it used to be, I think it's still available this way).

Either way, be very careful when it comes to opening PDFs in coming weeks.  Adobe's current plan is to have the 9.0 versions fixed by March 11 and 8.0 fixed some time later.

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