Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

02:01 PM
Connect Directly

Adobe PDF Reader Vulnerable, U.S. CERT Warns

The government's standard precautionary advice: Don't open files from sources you don't trust, and keep your antivirus software and patches up to date.

U.S. CERT on Thursday warned that new attack kits for exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe's PDF-reading software are circulating on the Internet.

Secure Computing's Anti-Malware Research Labs has published a screenshot of one such Web-based attack kit, called "PDF Xploit Pack."

"This new toolkit targets only PDFs, no other exploits are used to leverage vulnerabilities," a Secure Computing blog post explains. "Typical functions like caching the already infected users are deployed by this toolkit on the sever-side. Whenever a malicious PDF exploit is successfully delivered, the victim’s IP address is remembered for a certain period of time. During this 'ban time' the exploit is not delivered to that IP again, which is another burden for incident handling."

Adobe has patched 17 security vulnerabilities in the Windows version of its Reader 8 software so far this year, in four separate patches. The Macintosh version of Reader 8 has been patched 16 times in three patches to date this year.

Ian Amit, director of security research at Aladdin Knowledge Systems, attributes the rise in PDF exploits to the revival of the Neosploit toolkit, according to a report in Computerworld.

Secure Computing says that other exploit toolkits, like "El Fiesta," have also been enhanced to take advantage of PDF vulnerabilities.

Another security company, Finjan, released a report earlier this week that examined the rising sophistication of obfuscated malicious code -- code written to be difficult to read and detect. The report notes that PDF files make an appealing delivery mechanism for malicious code because they allow JavaScript code to be embedded for the purpose of PDF file customization and manipulation.

"During our research, we noticed an increase in the amount of PDF files containing malicious code," the Finjan report explains. "Obviously, crimeware authors became aware of this new capability for distributing malicious code and took the necessary steps to protect their 'bread- and- butter' from being detected by security vendors."

U.S. CERT offers the standard precautionary advice: Don't open files from sources you don't trust, and keep your antivirus software and patches up to date.

Keeping one's antivirus software up to date, while advisable, may not be particularly effective. The Finjan report says that company researchers submitted a PDF with obfuscated malicious code to Virus Total, a service that analyzes whether submitted malware is detectable by various antivirus engines. It found that only 10% of the antivirus engines in its test suite recognized the file as malicious.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
US Sets $5 Million Bounty For Russian Hacker Behind Zeus Banking Thefts
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  12/5/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
Orca has arbitrary code execution due to insecure Python module load
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
RubyGem omniauth-facebook has an access token security vulnerability
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
JBossWeb Bayeux has reflected XSS
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
node-connect before 2.8.2 has cross site scripting in methodOverride Middleware
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
Progress Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX through 2019.3.1023 contains a .NET deserialization vulnerability in the RadAsyncUpload function. This is exploitable when the encryption keys are known due to the presence of CVE-2017-11317 or CVE-2017-11357, or other means. Exploitation can result in remote cod...