Feeds

Adobe Reader Trojan predates mystery update by two weeks

Open secret widely exploited

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Security researchers have confirmed that a flaw fixed by a recent "covert" update to Adobe Reader has been exploited to distribute Trojans for at least a fortnight prior to its publication last Thursday (7 February).

Adobe confirmed that version 8.1.2 of Adobe Reader fixes a number of critical flaws that might be remotely exploited by hackers, leaving users (if not hackers) in the dark about what's inside the tin. The update is designed to resolved stability and performance issues as well as a number of unspecified security vulnerabilities.

iDefense Labs said it reported the bug to Adobe in October 2007. Other vendors, including Google, Fortinet and an anonymous contributor to TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative, are also credited in Adobe's advisory.

The Adobe update materialised on 7 February, a day after grey hat hackers posted a proof of concept demo for the bug. Proof of concept demos validate security warnings, and according to some, act as an incentive for vendors to address security vulnerabilities. On the down side, demonstrations of vulnerabilities could provide hackers with clues about how to run attacks using live exploit ammo.

That's a moot point in the case of the Reader vulnerability, because black hat hackers were already ahead of the game. Since January 20, banner ads have actively served malicious PDF files that exploit the vulnerability to install the Zonebac Trojan, iDefense reports. The Trojan modifies search results and banner ads, presumably in an attempt to rack up illicit affiliate payments.

iDefense reckons the Adobe exploiters are from the same group that used a RealPlayer zero-day exploit to install the same Zonebac Trojan.

Reports of exploitation of the more recent Adobe Reader flaw surfaced on an Italian forum on 20 January, but was largely unnoticed at the time. It could be that this was a probing attack solely designed to test the efficacy of the exploit.

Things changed last week with the publication of Adobe advisory; a steady trickle of exploit reports has flowed in since then. A timeline on the vulnerability can be found in a posting by the Internet Storm Centre here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.