Adobe confirms PDF zero-day, urges users to kill JavaScript

'Broken record,' says security expert of Adobe's advice

Adobe Systems Inc. Tuesday acknowledged that all versions of its popular PDF software, including editions for Windows, the Mac and Linux, contain at least one, and possibly two, critical vulnerabilities.

"All currently supported shipping versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, [versions] 9.1, 8.1.4, and 7.1.1 and earlier, are vulnerable to this issue," said David Lenoe, the company's security program manager, in a blog entry Tuesday. Lenoe was referring to a bug in Adobe's implementation of JavaScript that went public early Tuesday.

"Adobe is also currently investigating the issue posted on SecurityFocus as BID 34740," Lenoe added. That "Bugtraq ID," or BID number has been assigned to a second JavaScript vulnerability in Adobe's Reader.

Proof-of-concept attack code for both bugs has already been published on the Web.

According to Lenoe, Adobe will patch Reader and Acrobat, though he did not spell out a timetable for the fixes. "We are working on a development schedule for these updates and will post a timeline as soon as possible," he said.

In lieu of a patch, Lenoe recommended that users disable JavaScript in Reader and Acrobat by selecting Preferences from the Edit menu, choosing "JavaScript," then unchecking the "Enable Acrobat JavaScript" option. (On the Mac, Preferences is under the "Adobe Reader" or "Adobe Acrobat" menus.) That recommendation is identical to what he offered two months ago when Adobe owned up to a different critical vulnerability, one that was already being used by attackers at the time.

This week, however, Adobe reacted faster to reports that its software was vulnerable. In February, Adobe acknowledged the bug on Feb. 19, but waited until Feb. 24 to recommend disabling JavaScript.

If Adobe's patching pace for the newest bugs matches that of the February incident, it should have a fix available during the week of May 18.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc., who Tuesday blasted Adobe for its long-running "rash" of JavaScript vulnerabilities, Wednesday applauded the company for reacting faster -- even as he again criticized its buggy software.

"Getting mitigations and workaround information out in front of the people in the security trenches is key," Storms said in an instant message. "Unfortunately, for Adobe, disabling JavaScript is a broken record, [and] similar to what we've seen in the past with Microsoft on ActiveX bugs."

Some security experts have urged users to switch PDF viewers. Finnish security company F-Secure Corp. repeated that recommendation today. "We've said it before, but it's worth repeating -- use an alternative to Adobe Acrobat Reader," said Patrik Runald, a security response manager at F-Secure, in a notice on the company's site. [And] if you can't change from Adobe Reader, we strongly recommend that you disable its ability to run JavaScript."

More information will be posted to Abobe's security site as it becomes available, said Lenoe.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags adobejavascriptf-securepdf bugncircle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?