Adobe Reader X adds security, productivity, and mobility

Adobe unveiled details of the features and functions that will be included in the upcoming Adobe Reader X.

The next major release of Adobe Reader will be available soon. Adobe Reader X will include a variety of new features to make Reader more secure, more functional, and more mobile.

The most anticipated feature of Adobe Reader X is Protected Mode. Adobe Reader Protected Mode is a sandboxing security control which will prevent malware exploits from taking advantage of vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader. The Adobe sandbox concept is similar to the security controls in the Google Chrome Web browser, or the Microsoft Office 2010 Protected Viewing Mode feature.

A post on the Adobe Secure Software Engineering Team (ASSET) blog by Brad Arkin explains, "With Adobe Reader Protected Mode enabled (it will be by default), all operations required by Adobe Reader to display the PDF file to the user are run in a very restricted manner inside a confined environment, the "sandbox." Should Adobe Reader need to perform an action that is not permitted in the sandboxed environment, such as writing to the user's temporary folder or launching an attachment inside a PDF file using an external application (e.g. Microsoft Word), those requests are funneled through a "broker process," which has a strict set of policies for what is allowed and disallowed to prevent access to dangerous functionality."

In addition to Adobe Reader Protected Mode, though, Adobe unveiled additional features included in the upcoming Adobe Reader X. Adobe Reader X will enhance what Adobe Reader is capable of by adding the ability to interact with a wider variety of content types from within PDF files -- like spreadsheets, video clips, drawings, and other multimedia elements.

Adobe Reader X also adds new features that help users work more efficiently with PDF files, and foster collaboration and productivity. Sticky notes and highlighter tools enable users to mark up PDF documents and share comments and feedback. Adobe Reader X includes keyboard shortcuts for common functions like print, or zoom, and new reading modes that allow more content to be viewed on screen at one time.

Adobe also revealed that the upcoming Adobe Reader X will be more mobile than its predecessor. Adobe will have versions of the new Adobe Reader available for Android, Windows Phone 7, and even the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

Adobe Reader is a tool that is cross-platform and virtually ubiquitous -- which provides some benefits and advantages, but also makes the software a popular target for malware. Judging by what Adobe has revealed about the upcoming Adobe Reader X, the software will soon be more secure, and much more functional.

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Tony Bradley

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