Feeds

Adobe apologizes for festering Flash crash bug

16 months...and counting

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

An Adobe product manager has apologized for allowing a potentially serious bug in Flash Player to remain unfixed for more than 16 months.

The admission, by Emmy Huang, product manager for Flash, came a week after Apple CEO Steve Jobs lambasted Adobe engineers as "lazy" and said when Macs crash, "more often than not it’s because of Flash." Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch struck back, insisting that at Adobe, "we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs."

The crash bug at issue in Huang's blog post published over the weekend was reported in September 2008, but it has yet to be excised from release versions of Flash. She said a beta version of Flash scheduled for official release later this year has fixed the problem.

She went on to say the flaw should have been patched in one of the interim updates released over the past 16 months.

"I want to reiterate that it is our policy that crashes are serious 'A' priority bugs, and it is a tenet of the Flash Player team that ActionScript developers should never be able to crash Flash Player," she wrote. "If a crash occurs, it is by definition a bug, and one that Adobe takes very seriously."

The bug in version 9 of the software was reported by security researcher Matthew Dempsey on Adobe's Flash Player bugbase. Flash 10 was released a month later, making it impractical to fix the flaw in the next release. The report "slipped through the cracks," an omission that allowed the bug to languish even as other flaws were repaired in subsequent updates.

Over the past year, critics (El Reg among them) have assailed Adobe for a steady stream of security bugs that have been exploited in drive-by and email attacks that aim to install keyloggers and other types of malware on the machines of unwary users. Jobs, meanwhile, timed his remarks to the release of the iPad, which is notable for completely shunning the Adobe media program.

CTO Lynch flatly rejected the criticism from Jobs, arguing that "if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today." As if a product's widespread adoption were a guarantee that is was free from serious defects.

Huang's post seems to admit as much. But its forthrightness also suggests Adobe may finally be heeding critics. "I intend to follow up with the product manager (or Adobe rep) who worked on this issue to make sure it doesn't happen again," she wrote.

While the bug is said to generate only a simple crash, attackers often go on to figure out how to exploit such flaws to remotely execute malicious code. Dempsky has additional details about the bug here. A demo - which he warns will cause browsers to crash - is here.

"I'm not an Apple fan boy out to prove Steve Jobs right in Apple's decision not to support Flash on the iPhone/iPad," he explained. "Instead, I'm just a software engineer who at one time had to deal with Adobe's sorry excuse for a development platform and made an earnest effort on several occasions at helping them improve it for everyone." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.