Background on Reader Update Ship Schedule

We posted an update to Security Advisory APSA09-07 that reflects the target ship date of January 12, 2010 for the update to remediate vulnerability CVE-2009-4324. I thought folks might be interested in some of the analysis that went into developing the schedule for the fix, so let me share some of the details in this post.
We evaluated two different options for patching this vulnerability:

  1. Stop everything else and start work immediately on an out-of-cycle security update to resolve this vulnerability with a one-off fix. We made major investments as part of our security initiative earlier this year that allow us to deliver patches more quickly. We estimated that delivering an out-of-cycle update would require somewhere between two and three weeks. Unfortunately, this option would also negatively impact the timing of the next quarterly security update for Adobe Reader and Acrobat scheduled for January 12, 2010.
  2. Roll the fix for vulnerability CVE-2009-4324 into the code branch for the scheduled January 12, 2010 release. The team determined that by putting additional resources over the holidays towards the engineering and testing work required to ship a high confidence fix for this issue with low risk of introducing any new problems, they could deliver the fix as part of the quarterly update on January 12, 2010.

Two important considerations that contributed to our decision to select the second option:

  • JavaScript Blacklist mitigation – This new feature, introduced in Adobe Reader and Acrobat versions 9.2 and 8.1.7, with the quarterly update in October, allows individuals as well as administrators of large enterprise managed desktop environments to easily disable access to individual JavaScript APIs. More details on the JavaScript Blacklist mitigation are available here. The feature design and our testing for this specific vulnerability indicate the JavaScript Blacklist is an effective mitigation against the threat without breaking other workflows that rely on JavaScript or other JavaScript APIs.
  • Customer schedules – The next quarterly security update for Adobe Reader and Acrobat, scheduled for release on January 12, 2010, will address a number of security vulnerabilities that were responsibly disclosed to Adobe. We are eager to get fixes for these issues out to our users on schedule. Many organizations are in the process of preparing for the January 12, 2010 update. The delay an out-of-cycle security update would force on the regularly scheduled quarterly release represents a significant negative. Additionally, an informal poll we conducted indicated that most of the organizations we talked with were in favor of the second option to better align with their schedules.

This is just a brief description of some of the points we considered in our analysis. Ultimately, the decision came down to what we could do to best mitigate threats to our customers, a critical priority to everyone at Adobe – and one we take very seriously.