Adobe is fixing several security vulnerabilities in its Shockwave Player, as well as its Robohelp authoring product, as part of the companys scheduled update.
Adobe's Product Security Incident Report Team closed nine critical security holes in Shockwave Player version 220.127.116.113, as well as earlier versions of the software, for both Microsoft Windows and Apples Mac OS X, according to the security advisory released Feb. 14. The memory corruption and heap overflow vulnerabilities in Shockwave 3D Asset, if exploited, could potentially allow attackers to run malicious code, according to Adobe.
The 3D Asset is a standard component within Shockwave Player that allows users to open and view certain 3D format files. Adobe last patched this component in June.
The second bulletin addressed an "important" vulnerability in RoboHelp 9 or 8 for Word on Windows. Attackers could potentially use a specially crafted link to launch a cross-site scripting attack on Web-based output generated with RoboHelp, according to the security advisory (APSB12-04). RoboHelp is an authoring software for technical writers and developers creating online Help menus for Web-based and desktop applications.
Microsoft released its Patch Tuesday bulletins for February on the same day. Even though there were only nine patches from Microsoft, administrators have a fairly long list of third-party updates to work through.
After a "very quiet" December and January, non-Microsoft vendors are getting back in the patching cycle, according to Jason Miller, manager of research and development at VMware.
Mozilla released Firefox 10.1 to close a security flaw that exposed users to drive-by attacks in the latest version of its Web browser, which it had released just last month. The fix is also applicable to the Thunderbird mail client and SeaMonkey application suite. Google updated its Chrome Web browser twice in the past few weeks to close bugs and add new security features. Opera, Real Player, Skype and Yahoo Messenger have also been updated.
Symantec issued a series of critical patches to close vulnerabilities in pcAnywhere in late January. The company recommended that organizations disable pcAnywhere until the patches had been applied, or risk being compromised remotely. Symantec is also offering free upgrades to anyone using older, unsupported versions.
Apple also released its own Security Update for Mac OS X Lion and Snow Leopard addressing 52 issues earlier this month. Apple followed up with a second security update for Snow Leopard users a few days later following reports that the first security update was causing the systems to crash.
Patching strategies at many businesses are "often less than adequate," Secunia said in its annual report released also on Feb. 14. Third-party programs are driving the growth in software vulnerabilities, according to Secunia. In 2011, 78 percent of disclosed vulnerabilities affected third-party programs, compared with 12 percent found in operating systems and 10 percent found in Microsoft applications.
By not addressing errors in software installed on typical end-points, organizations and individuals are in effect leaving their windows wide open for cyber-criminals to enter and compromise their most sensitive data, said Stefan Frei, research analyst director at Secunia.
That applications that cyber-criminals take aim at are "often vastly different" from what organizations think are likely to be targeted, said Frei. Administrators often focus on patching business-critical programs, not realizing that cyber-criminals will easily target less critical programs as well. Cyber-criminals "only need one vulnerable program to compromise the host," said Frei.