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Adobe Warns of Critical Zero-Day Vulnerability in Reader and Acrobat, Possibly Targeting Defense Firms

Updated Story: Researchers Confirm Attackers Targeted Defense Firms with Adobe Reader Zero-day

Adobe Systems issued an advisory today on a zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2011-2462) that has come under attack in the wild, and may have been targeting the defense industry.

According to Adobe, the issue is a U3D memory corruption vulnerability that can be exploited to cause a crash and permit an attacker to hijack a system. So far, there are reports that the vulnerability is being exploited in limited, targeted attacks against Adobe Reader 9.x on Windows. However, the bug also affects Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.4.6 and earlier 9.x versions for UNIX and Macintosh computers, as well as Adobe Reader X (10.1.1) and Acrobat X (10.1.1) and earlier 10.x versions on Windows and Mac.

Adobe confirmed that vulnerability was first reported by Lockheed Martin CIRT and the Defense Security Information Exchange, indicating that attacks exploting the vulnerability may have been targeting the defense industry.

“We are in the process of finalizing a fix for the issue and expect to make available an update for Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.x for Windows no later than the week of December 12, 2011,” Adobe’s advisory reads.

Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy for Adobe, blogged that the reason the company was focused on Adobe Reader 9.x. on Windows first is because that is the version being targeted.

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“All real-world attack activity, both in this instance and historically, is limited to Adobe Reader on Windows,” Arkin wrote. “We have not received any reports to date of malicious PDFs being used to exploit Adobe Reader or Acrobat for Macintosh or UNIX for this CVE (or any other CVE).”

Patches for Windows and Mac users of Adobe Reader X and Acrobat X will come on the next quarterly update, scheduled for Jan. 10, 2012. The fix for Adobe Reader 9.x for UNIX will come Jan. 10 as well. In the meantime, the company noted that Adobe Reader X Protected Mode and Acrobat X Protected View offer some mitigation against the exploit.

“Focusing this release on just Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.x for Windows also allows us to ship the update much earlier… I’d like to take this moment to encourage any remaining users still running Adobe Reader or Acrobat 9.x (or worse, older unsupported versions) to please upgrade to Adobe Reader or Acrobat X,” Arkin added.

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Updated on 11/07/11 7:49AM with information crediting Lockheed Martin for reporting the vulnerability

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