Adobe fixes 6 critical Flash bugs

Takes second crack at one it tried -- and failed -- to patch in June

Adobe today patched six vulnerabilities in Flash Player, all of them pegged critical by the company.

Tuesday's update was 2010's third for Flash Player, the Adobe browser plug-in that's installed on an estimated 99% of all personal computers. Previous updates in March and June have fixed 33 other flaws.

It also came atop a massive 34-patch collection from Microsoft earlier today.

As is Adobe's practice, it revealed only the scantiest of details about the half-dozen bugs in the accompanying security advisory . Five of the six were labeled as "memory corruption" vulnerabilities, while the sixth could potentially be used in a "click-jacking" attack.

Adobe said it was unaware of any in-the-wild exploitation of the vulnerabilities.

One of the patches is a second try for Adobe.

The company tried to patch the CVE-2010-2188 flaw two months ago when it last updated Flash. However, about two weeks after that June 10 update, Adobe admitted its fix had failed. That left users hanging, since while the patch didn't do what Adobe intended, researchers -- including HP TippingPoint's ZDI bug bounty program -- had already published some technical information about the source of the vulnerability.

Although Adobe has committed to a quarterly patching schedule for its PDF viewing and creation programs, Reader and Acrobat, and delivers those on the same day of the month as Microsoft's Patch Tuesday updates, it's not pledged to do the same with Flash Player.

The way Adobe treats Reader and Flash differently irked one researcher. "They can afford to give us all a heads up and schedule for Acrobat updates, but not Flash?" asked Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, in an instant message.

In response, Adobe said that the quarterly schedule and pre-notification -- like Microsoft, Adobe issues a pre-patch warning the week before it releases an update for Reader and Acrobat -- currently applied only to Reader and Acrobat. But that may change.

"We are evaluating the possibility of aligning the patch cycles for other Adobe products with Patch Tuesdays," said Adobe spokeswoman Wiebke Lips.

Users can expect another update from Adobe next week.

Last week, the company confirmed it will issue an emergency patch the week of Aug. 16 to fix a critical flaw in Reader and Acrobat disclosed in July by researcher Charlie Miller at the Black Hat security conference.

Next week's update will be Reader's third "out-of-band" patch, the term given to security fixes that fall outside the normal schedule.

Flash Player for Mac and Linux can be downloaded using the links included in Tuesday's advisory. Alternately, users can use the programs' built-in update mechanism to grab the new versions.

Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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Gregg Keizer

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