Adobe Issues Emergency Flash Player Patches to Block Cyber-Attacks

Adobe Flash Player attacks prompt Adobe to issue a patch, while Microsoft gets ready to issue a massive update of its own for Patch Tuesday.

Adobe Systems patched critical code flaws today to thwart ongoing attacks against Adobe Flash Player.

According to Adobe, attackers are targeting two Flash Player vulnerabilities in the wild. The first, CVE-2013-0633, is being exploited in attacks designed to fool the user into opening a Microsoft Word document contained in an email that has malicious Flash (SWF) content. The exploit is targeting the ActiveX version of Flash Player on Windows.

The other vulnerability is CVE-2013-0634 and is being exploited via Websites hosting malicious SWF content targeting Flash Player in Firefox or Safari on Macs. Windows users are being targeted with the vulnerability as well; they are getting hit with emails containing a Microsoft Word document attachment with malicious SWF content.

"Adobe recommends users apply the updates for their product installations," the company said in an advisory.

While Adobe customers apply their patches, Microsoft users should get ready for a massive security update early next week. Feb. 12 will mark the second Patch Tuesday of the year, and Microsoft plans to release 12 security bulletins.

Five of the 12 are rated "critical" and address issues in Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer and Exchange Software. The remaining bulletins are classified as "important" and address issues in Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Server Software and the .NET Framework.

"This month, we see some significant vulnerabilities with the potential to create a formidable one-two punch, which could be key to hackers unleashing the most powerful attacks in their arsenals," said Alex Horan, senior product manager at CORE Security. "When these exploits are used in the right combination, the effects can be deadly for system administrators."

"Bulletins one and two," he explained, "target all versions of Internet Explorer on essentially all versions of Windows platforms, so it's pretty much one-hack-fits-all in the Windows environment for attackers. I expect a lot of interest in developing a working exploit for this vulnerability."

It is good and bad news that the patches are mostly clustered on Windows, said Ross Barrett, Rapid7's senior manager of security engineering.

"It's good because administrators probably don't have to worry about applying multiple patches for the same advisory to a single host," he said. "It's bad because an organization with even the simplest deployment of Microsoft products will probably be hit by all of these advisories, meaning their desktop and server teams will be extra busy."

The most serious of the bulletins may be Bulletin 4, which affects Microsoft Exchange Server and could involve an exploit triggered by a malformed email message, he said.

"If so, this will be the most directly exploitable of the advisories and should be a top priority," Barrett said. "Similarly, a vulnerability impacting a search service probably relates to a malformed message or document header which could trigger something in the indexing server."

"Bulletin 12 only affects Windows XP, but is critical and requires a restart, which means it applies to a portion of the OS that will be in use," he added. "This could mean a running or default on service, so this could be a remotely exploitable, wormable issue. For the many organizations that still have a large XP deployment, after patching your Exchange server, this is where I would look next."