Feeds

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

Locked and loaded

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
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
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
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.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
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.