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New Adobe Auto-Updater Debuts On Super (Patch) Tuesday

Meanwhile Microsoft patches 25 vulnerabilities, announces it will discontinue support for XP Service Pack 2, Windows 2000 in July, and Oracle releases fixes for 47 bugs
Adobe today officially kicked off its automatic updater feature for Reader and Acrobat in a major step toward helping users keep their applications up-to-date and patched -- amid a heavy day of patch releases from Microsoft and Oracle, as well.

The updater from Adobe had been in beta test since January and is now officially operational, pushing its first updates, Acrobat and Reader 9.3.2 and 8.22 for Windows and Macintosh.

"The purpose of the new updater is to keep end-users up-to-date in a much more streamlined and automated way," blogged Steve Gottwals, product manager at Adobe.

The latest update fixes 15 vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader 9.3.1 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix; Adobe Acrobat 9.3.1 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh; and Adobe Reader 8.2.1 and earlier versions and Adobe Acrobat 8.2.1 (and earlier) for Windows and Macintosh. Among the bugs are cross-site scripting, buffer overflows, denial-of-service, memory corruption, and a heap overflow flaw.

Security experts applauded the move by Adobe, which has been under the microscope during the past year or so as its applications have been increasingly targeted by attackers.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle, says Adobe has come a long way in the past year when it comes to security. "There's no doubt Adobe has been under the gun," Storms says. But until now, there was no simple or obvious way to update Adobe apps, he says.

The big challenge now for Adobe is getting users running older versions of its apps -- 8.0 and earlier -- to update, says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys. "There's no incentive [for those users] except for security" reasons to update, he says. And users who aren't necessarily security-minded either won't know or be inclined to do so, he says.

Kandek says, ideally, Adobe would need to team up with Microsoft to use its Windows Updater to push newer versions of the app to consumers. "Ideally, Adobe needs a delivery mechanism," he says.

Microsoft, meanwhile, issued 11 security bulletins, fixing 25 vulnerabilities, five of which are rated as "critical." Among the bulletins is MS10-019 for two bugs in Windows that allow an attacker to bypass digitally signed files.

"The critical Microsoft WinVerifyTrust signature validation vulnerability can be used to really enhance social engineering efforts," said Joshua Talbot, security intelligence manager for Symantec Security Response, in a statement. "It allows an attacker to fool Windows into thinking that a malicious program was created by a legitimate vendor. If a user begins to download an application and they see the Windows notification telling them who created it, they might think twice before proceeding if it's from an unfamiliar source. This vulnerability allows an attacker to force Windows to report to the user that the application was created by any vendor the attacker chooses to impersonate."

Other patches fix media player flaws, MS10-026 for a vulnerability in Windows that handles media codecs and can lead to remote code execution, and MS10-027, which fixes a flaw in Windows Media Player 9.

Microsoft also announced that as of July 13, it will no longer support XP Service Pack 2 nor extended support for Windows 2000. And Windows Vista RTM will no longer be supported after today, but Service Pack 1 for the OS will be supported until July 12, 2011.

"I believe the [end of SP2 support] is going to be reasonably painful," Qualys' Kandek says. "And Windows 2000 will be painful, too. I hear there still many services running on Windows 2000."

And Oracle issued 47 security bug fixes today, including some for its 11g database.

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