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Adobe Patches 36 Flaws, Including a Zero-Day, in Flash Player

It's been a tough year for Adobe on the security front. The company fixed another long list of security risks in its Flash Player.

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Adobe Flash patches

If you use Adobe Flash (and you probably do), it's time to update (again). Adobe came out today with the APSB15-16 security bulletin providing patches for 36 security vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player.

Among the vulnerabilities patched in the update is CVE-2015-5119, a zero-day flaw that is already being exploited. The CVE-2015-5119 vulnerability publicly came to light on July 5 after security firm Hacking Team was breached.

An Adobe spokesperson told eWEEK that Adobe first was alerted to the CVE-2015-5119 on July 1. CVE-2015-5119 is a use-after-free memory vulnerability that could potentially lead to code execution.

The biggest source of vulnerability disclosure in the APSB15-16 security bulletin, however, is not from public zero-days, but rather from Google's Project Zero security effort. Google Project Zero came out in July 2014 as an initiative to help secure application code across the Internet.

In total, Adobe credits Google Project Zero researchers for reporting 20 vulnerabilities in the new Flash updates.

The new security updates pile onto what has already been a challenging year for Flash vulnerabilities. On June 23, Adobe rushed out a patch for the CVE-2015-3113 zero-day vulnerability that was being exploited in the hacking campaign dubbed by security firm FireEye as Operation Clandestine Wolf.

Overall, there has been a marked increase in Flash-based attacks and vulnerabilities in 2015, with Intel Security's McAfee Labs reporting a 317 percent increase in the volume of Adobe Flash malware samples detected, while Trustwave research found that Adobe Flash is now the most exploited application.

All of this new Flash vulnerability activity stands in stark contrast to much of 2013 and early 2014, when there wasn't much disclosure about new Flash zero-days. Back in 2013, I did a video interview with Adobe's Chief Security Officer Brad Arkin, who explained to me how he made security a top priority for Adobe.

Something, however, has changed in recent months, and Adobe's Flash is dead center in attackers' cross hairs. The types of exploits that are reported are largely memory corruption and abuse types of flaws. These are issues where operating system features like Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) can sometimes help, but it's clear that more needs to be done.

I don't envy the task that Adobe now faces, trying to re-engineer Flash in a way that can reduce risk and restore user confidence, but it's a task the company must undertake for Flash to survive and retain any relevancy in the modern Web era.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.