Risk
7/20/2010
04:16 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Adobe Plans Security Sandbox For Reader

Windows users can look forward to improved malware protection in Adobe's Reader software.

Continuing the security initiative launched last year to deal with rising attacks on its products, Adobe on Tuesday previewed forthcoming security technology in the next major release of its Reader software, which should debut before the end of the year.

Adobe Reader and Acrobat are widely installed applications for reading and creating PDF files. Because one or both are present on most personal computers, they've become targets for malware writers, along with Adobe's Flash software.

Adobe has struggled to keep up and the company's reputation has suffered. In March, security company F-Secure said that Acrobat/Reader was the most targeted application in 2009.

The security initiative that Adobe launched last year represents an attempt to turn things around.

As an example of what the company has been doing, Adobe in April introduced a new software updater that can be set to update Reader and other Adobe software automatically for Windows users (Mac OS requires a password for updates, so automatic updating isn't possible at the moment for Mac users).

Automatic updating is considered to promote better security than manual updating because it applies patches consistently.

Adobe's security rebound continues with the introduction of a sandboxing technology called Protected Mode in the next Reader release.

Brad Arkin, Adobe's senior director of product security and privacy, likens it to the Google Chrome sandbox and Microsoft Office 2010 Protected Viewing Mode.

"With Adobe Reader Protected Mode enabled (it will be by default), all operations required by Adobe Reader to display the PDF file to the user are run in a very restricted manner inside a confined environment, the 'sandbox,'" said Arkin in a blog post. "Should Adobe Reader need to perform an action that is not permitted in the sandboxed environment, such as writing to the user’s temporary folder or launching an attachment inside a PDF file using an external application (e.g. Microsoft Word), those requests are funneled through a 'broker process,' which has a strict set of policies for what is allowed and disallowed to prevent access to dangerous functionality."

Adobe's sandbox is Windows-only and will initially be limited to blocking write operations. Later iterations will block read-only activities, such as accessing sensitive information.

While past neglect of Mac development is believed to be one of the reasons that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has taken such a hard line against Adobe's Flash technology, Adobe's focus on Windows need not be taken as a slight. It could be said to be a vote of confidence in the security situation on other platforms. Adobe's rationale for coming to the defense of Windows is that Windows users face the most risk from malware.

"Today, Adobe Reader for Windows represents the overwhelming majority of Adobe Reader downloads," an Adobe spokesperson said in an e-mail. "Adobe is always carefully evaluating the threat landscape to determine the priorities and next steps in the security roadmap for our products."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0972
Published: 2014-08-01
The kgsl graphics driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not properly prevent write access to IOMMU context registers, which allows local users to select a custom page table, and consequently write ...

CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2014-3534
Published: 2014-08-01
arch/s390/kernel/ptrace.c in the Linux kernel before 3.15.8 on the s390 platform does not properly restrict address-space control operations in PTRACE_POKEUSR_AREA requests, which allows local users to obtain read and write access to kernel memory locations, and consequently gain privileges, via a c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio