Feeds

New in-the-wild attack targets fully-patched Adobe Reader

Locked and loaded

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Security watchers are warning of a serious unpatched vulnerability in Adobe's Reader program that's actively being exploited to install malware on the PCs of unsuspecting users.

The vulnerability has been confirmed in versions 8.1.3 and 9.0.0 of Adobe Reader running on Windows XP Service Pack 3 and is presumed to work on other versions of Windows as well, according to this advisory from Shadowserver. Adobe for machines running Linux and Apple's OS X were not tested, but may also be vulnerable, Shadowserver's Steven Adair said.

There are multiple variants of the exploit that are actively circulating, one of which installs a remote access trojan known as Gh0st RAT.

"Right now we believe these files are only being used in a smaller set of targeted attacks," Shadowserver's advisory read. "However, these types of attacks are frequently the most damaging and it is only a matter of time before this exploit ends up in every exploit pack on the internet."

Several anti-virus programs are already detecting the booby-trapped PDFs. Trend Micro and Symantec flag the attack as TROJ_PIDIEF.IN and Trojan.Pidief.E respectively. Both companies rate the threat as low, but those analyses appeared to be a week old, so it's likely attackers have stepped up the exploit since then.

Adobe has issued this advisory aknowledging a "critical vulnerability" in Reader. Updates won't be available until March 11 for version 9 and a later date for earlier versions. InsecureWeb has also issued details here.

The toxic PDFs attack a vulnerability that resides in a non-javascript call and "use some javascript to implement a heap spray for successful code execution," according to an analysis security researcher Matthew Richard provided for Shadowserver. "The malicious PDFs in the wild contain javascript that is used to fill the heap with shellcode."

Shadowserver is recommending people disable javascript in Reader, a measure that's probably not a bad idea even in the best of times. To do so, open Reader and then click Edit > Preferences > JavaScript and then uncheck the box that says Enable Acrobat JavaScript. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?