Adobe Patches Flash Player in Massive Security Update

Adobe Systems has fixed more than two dozen critical flaws in Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Android systems.

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The update is rated "critical" by Adobe, and was given the highest deployment priority rating for Windows users. Adobe is not aware of any exploits targeting the vulnerabilities, which impact Adobe Flash Player 11.4.402.278 and earlier for Windows, version 11.4.402.265 and earlier for Macs and version and earlier for Linux. The update also impacts Flash Player and earlier on Android 4.x versions and and earlier on Android 3.x and 2.x.

A successful attack would allow a hacker to potentially crash or take control of a vulnerable system, Adobe said.

"Just in time for Microsoft Patch Tuesday this week, Adobe has released a new version of its Flash v11 player for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Android," Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek blogged Oct. 8. "The update includes patches for 25 vulnerabilities that could each be used to gain remote code execution."

"By the way, Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) is also affected on Windows, Mac OS X and Android," he added. "Don't forget to update if you have any of the numerous applications installed that use that software."

Microsoft issued a patch of its own for Flash Player for Windows 8, in which Flash Player is embedded to run with Internet Explorer 10.

“If this is the kind of scheduling users can expect from the Adobe/Microsoft partnership, it makes you wonder if embedding Flash in Internet Explorer was really a great idea," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle. "Back in August, Adobe released critical updates for Flash, but Windows 8 was not included. This was because IE 10 in Windows has Flash embedded, so users needed an update from Microsoft."

"Why Adobe and Microsoft didn’t co-ordinate so today’s release was included in all the updates going out in Microsoft’s regular [Patch Tuesday] is anyone’s guess," he added. "This means there will be back-to-back updates for Windows 8 users and that will definitely cause confusion.”

Microsoft issued its monthly Patch Tuesday update Oct. 9, issuing seven security bulletins to cover vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Server Software, Lync and SQL Server. Only one of the bulletins– MS12-064–received the company's highest rating of "critical."

The critical bulletin addresses two issues impacting Microsoft Word. Though just one of those vulnerabilities is considered "critical" by Microsoft, an attacker could exploit that flaw to execute remote code with the privileges of the logged-on user.

In a blog post, Kandek noted that the vulnerability can be exploited by an attacker via a malicious RTF (rich text format) formatted email through the Outlook Preview pane–even if the user does not open the email.

"Since the development complexity of an attack against this vulnerability is low, we believe this vulnerability will be the first to have an exploit developed and recommend applying the MS12-064 update as quickly as possible," he added.