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Miscreants hijacking machines via (freshly patched) Adobe flaw

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If you haven't updated your Adobe Reader program lately, now would be a good time. Three days after the company rushed out a critical update, miscreants are actively exploiting a security flaw to execute malicious code on vulnerable machines.

The SANS Internet Storm Center says here that researchers have spotted laced PDF files being circulated online. Its discovery comes on the heels of the public release of proof-of-concept code exploiting CVE-2008-2992. According to SANS, none of the 32 top anti-virus programs were detecting the malicious files.

SANS handler Bojan Zdrnja said the PDFs are being spread using drive-by advertisements on sites deemed "suspicious." At the moment, distribution is fairly light, but Zdrnja expects that change soon. Once the rigged PDF is opened, the exploit calls the mshta application in Windows to execute HTA files.

"It retrieves the trojan from a different web site and executes it on the infected machine," Zdrnja wrote in an email to The Register. "The trojan then does all sort of malicious things (I haven't analyzed that further)."

Like Adobe's Flash animation player, Reader can be a pain to keep updated. The program comes with an automatic update feature, but it sometimes takes weeks to actually get around to installing critical updates, we've found. Whether your machine runs Windows, OS X, or Linux, manual updating is fairly easy using this link. Versions 8.1.2 and earlier are vulnerable to these attacks. Protect yourself by patching now. ®

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