Security & Privacy + Software & Apps

PDF Flaw, Inherent in Adobe Acrobat and Reader, Could Lead to Many Attacks

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Computerworld is reporting on a new problem with Adobe Acrobat and Reader software. Initially presented about ten days ago by security researcher Didier Stevens on his blog, this attack uses no underhanded tricks to perform its nefarious action. It simply uses a “feature” of Adobe’s PDF reader software that allows PDFs to contain instructions to open applications and execute code. Getting people to open the PDFs in question is one of social engineering, because they lead to a message being displayed by the software. However, the hacker creating the PDF can create the wording of this message, leading to the possibility that people will be tricked.

Adobe is as reticent about turning this off as they are about Javascript, another vector of attack. While there is a preference that can be turned off to protect from this “feature” – in Trust Manager preferences, uncheck “Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications” – most users won’t make this change, or even know about it.

Well, you know about it, so go change the preferences in your Adobe PDF software. Or, just use the easy solution: Apple’s Preview instead of Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

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