Adobe Investigating New Vulnerabilities in Reader

Adobe is investigating two new reported remote code execution vulnerabilities in Reader 8 and 9. The flaws have been demonstrated on Linux and are likely to affect other platforms.

Adobe said it is investigating reports of a new vulnerability in its PDF Reader program.

The Adobe report refers to a single vulnerability report on SecurityFocus, but in fact there are two similar reports there, both credited to "Arr1val." Both include proof-of -concept Javascript code.

Both vulnerabilities are reported as affecting Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.1.4 and 9.1. Arr1val tested them on Linux, not other platforms, but it's highly plausible, based on the reports and the proof-of-concept code, that they are portable to other operating systems. The actual exploits, which are called shell code, are not likely as portable, as the details of an exploit are often platform-specific.

SecurityFocus calls both "Boundary Condition Errors." For both it says that "[a]n attacker can exploit this issue to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running the application or crash the application, denying service to legitimate users." The first is titled Adobe Reader 'getAnnots()' Javascript Function Remote Code Execution Vulnerability and the second Adobe Reader 'spell.customDictionaryOpen()' JavaScript Function Remote Code Execution Vulnerability.

The proofs of concept are very similar. Both use NOP slide/heap spray techniques to fill memory with shell code to execute once the exploit is triggered. Both exploits are simple invocations of methods on the "this" object in the script.

Adobe responded to the reports on SecurityFocus with impressive speed, probably in response to complaints about slower responses in the past. The Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) blog says that it will have an update once it gets more information.

Security CenterEditor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.