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Foxit PDF Vulnerability Patched - Mozilla Moves to Render PDFs Internally

A recently disclosed vulnerability in the Foxit PDF viewer has been patched in the latest software release. The issue, first discovered by Italian security researcher Andrea Micalizzi, centered on a code execution flaw that could have been exploited remotely.

According to Micalizzi, the flaw would allow an attacker to write to the memory location of their choosing. As mentioned previously, the vulnerability wasn’t found within Foxit’s software, but the DLL file that creates the link between Foxit and Firefox (npFoxitReaderPlugin.dll).

Foxit released an updated version of the vulnerable DLL file on the eleventh, but a fully patched download was released on Thursday.

The software firm is encouraging everyone to update. Foxit is a popular alternative to Adobe’s PDF Reader, and the application often recommended as a more secure alternative. However, the continuous attacks on PDF-centric add-on software has led Mozilla to discuss plans to include a PDF reader as part of the core functions of their Firefox browser. “For a number of years there have been several plugins for viewing PDF’s within Firefox. Many of these plugins come with proprietary closed source code that could potentially expose users to security vulnerabilities,” a blog post from Mozilla, giving a slight poke to Adobe, explained.

In addition to the risk potential, PDF reading add-ons also mean more code. In order to address both problems, developers within Mozilla Labs have created a reader within Firefox using HTML 5. The feature was announced on last Friday, and is available in the beta release of the browser.

Google’s Chrome browser has a similar offering, but it is developed using Foxit’s SDK, which is layered with protections from Chrome’s sandbox. Mozilla’s announcement and subsequent code advancement, while taking steps to protect end users, opens the door to attacks via Firefox’s JavaScript rendering.

Still, Mozilla is moving forward and the consensus is that the move is a good one. Time will tell if it proves to be more secure.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.