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Adobe Reader 0-day exploit surfaces on underground bazaars

Malformed pdf horrors prowl the internet sewers

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Miscreants have reportedly discovered a zero-day vulnerability in latest version of Adobe Reader.

Exploits based on the vulnerability, which circumvents sandbox protection technology incorporated into Adobe X and Adobe XI, are on sale in underground forums. Pricing starts at a hefty $30,000 but the exploit has already made its way into custom versions of the Blackhole Exploit Kit, a popular tool for the distribution of banking trojans such as ZeuS using drive-by download attacks.

The illicit trade was discovered by Moscow-based forensics firm Group-IB, which has produced a video illustrating the basic concepts (but not details) of the attack, which early analysis suggests only works against Windows installations of Adobe Reader.

Group-IB explained that the Adobe X vulnerability relies on malformed PDF documents with specially crafted forms.

Andrey Komarov, head of the international projects department of Group-IB, explained:

"The vulnerability has some limitations, for example it could be successfully exploited only after the user will close the browser and restart it. Another variant is to organize interaction between the victim and the malformed PDF document. Either way, the vulnerability is a very significant vector to be spread with bypassing of internal Adobe X sandbox, which is appealing for cybercrime gangs because in the past there was no documented method of how to bypass it with shellcode execution."

Adobe is in the process of investigating the vulnerability, which potentially makes its PDF viewing software less safe than alternatives such as Foxit and Sumatra PDF. ®

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