Adobe Patches Critical Bugs in Reader, Acrobat

Adobe Systems reports plugging 17 security holes, including one that has been exploited by attackers to infect users.

Adobe Systems on June 29 plugged 17 critical security holes affecting Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

Among the fixes is a patch for a zero-day vulnerability that impacted not only Reader and Acrobat, but versions of Adobe Flash Player as well, on multiple operating systems. Earlier in June, attackers were seen using the bug to plant backdoor Trojans on vulnerable machines.

Also among the bevy of patches is a fix for a situation demonstrated by security researcher Didier Stevens earlier in 2010, in which a PDF reader's "/launch" command could be abused to run malicious embedded executables.

"[The June 29] update includes changes to resolve the misuse of this command," blogged Steve Gottwals, group product manager for Adobe Reader. "We added functionality to block any attempts to launch an executable or other harmful objects by default. We also altered the way the existing warning dialog works to thwart the known social engineering attacks."

When the feature is enabled, the user will get a warning message when opening attachments.

Almost all the vulnerabilities are known to leave users open to arbitrary code execution. The one exception is CVE-2010-2204, a remote memory corruption vulnerability that can cause programs to crash. According to Adobe, arbitrary code execution has not been demonstrated, but may be possible.