Feeds

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

Locked and loaded

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.