Feeds

Adobe Reader Trojan predates mystery update by two weeks

Open secret widely exploited

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.