Archive for March, 2011

Trust us: Trust in Electronic Signatures Revisited

Last Friday, one of our colleagues James Lockman published a great blog entry on creating digital IDs and signatures in Acrobat X, and ways in which to establish trust in those signatures.

This is a thorough, updated companion piece to three blog entries we published back in 2008 on trust–an issue which is still critical to understand when considering electronic signatures to reduce costs and expedite previously paper-based workflows:

Background on APSA11-01 Patch Schedule

We just posted Security Advisory APSA11-01 announcing a critical vulnerability (CVE-2011-0609) in Adobe Flash Player, which also impacts the authplay.dll component shipping with Adobe Reader and Acrobat for Windows and Macintosh.

In the advisory, we referenced the following target ship schedule for the security updates addressing CVE-2011-0609 in Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Acrobat:

  • The security update for Adobe Flash Player 10.x and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Solaris and Android is scheduled to be available during the week of March 21, 2011.
  • The security update for Adobe Acrobat X (10.0.1) and earlier 10.x and 9.x versions for Windows and Macintosh, and Adobe Reader 9.4.2 and earlier 9.x versions is also scheduled to be available by the week of March 21, 2011.
  • We currently plan to address CVE-2011-0609 in Adobe Reader X with the next quarterly security update for Adobe Reader, currently scheduled for June 14, 2011.

Let me provide some additional background on the decision not to update Adobe Reader X at this time. We evaluated a number of different options. In the end, we determined that the above patch schedule would allow us to provide the best balance of risk mitigation and admin/update costs for our customers. Here are some points we considered in developing this schedule:

  • Reports that we’ve received thus far indicate the attack is targeted at a very small number of organizations and limited in scope. The current attack leverages a malicious Flash (.swf) file inside a Microsoft Excel (.xls) file. The .xls file is used to set up machine memory to take advantage of a crash triggered by the corrupted .swf file. The final step of the attack is to install persistent malware on the victim’s machine.
  • We have not received reports or malicious samples of attacks leveraging this vulnerability via .pdf files. However, attackers have leveraged these type of Flash Player vulnerabilities in the past via .pdf files to attack the embedded authplay.dll component shipping with Adobe Reader and Acrobat v9. Out of a preponderance of caution we took the decision to ship out-of-cycle updates for Adobe Reader and Acrobat v9, and Acrobat X to mitigate the risk of attackers shifting the attack from an .xls container to a .pdf container.
  • Adobe Reader X Protected Mode (aka “sandboxing”) is designed to prevent the type of exploit we are currently seeing in the .swf/.xls attack from executing. Even if an attacker made the transition to a .pdf container for the exploit, the sandbox would prevent the final step of malicious software installation on the victim’s machine.
  • We considered providing an out-of-cycle update for Adobe Reader X as well, which would have delayed the current patch release schedule by about another week. However, given the mitigation provided by the Adobe Reader X sandbox and the absence of attacks via PDF, we determined that an out-of-cycle update would incur unnecessary churn and patch management overhead on our users not justified by the associated risk, in particular for customers with large managed environments.

We are working closely with our Microsoft Active Protections Partners (MAPP), customers and other partners in the security community to monitor the situation. Should we see different types of exploits targeting CVE-2011-0609 in Adobe Reader X, we will update our current plan accordingly.

Brad Arkin
Senior Director, Product Security and Privacy

Conference Update: CanSecWest 2011

Hi there!

Steve Adegbite here with an update on the Adobe security conference schedule.  Last month, Adobe’s security team was deeply involved with RSA Conference 2011. We had the opportunity to talk with many of you in our booth and at various sessions—customers, partners and other members of the security ecosystem.

This month, we turn our focus up north towards Vancouver, Canada, where yours truly, some of our security researchers (Kyle Randolph, Jim Hong and Peleus Uhley) as well as some folks from our product teams will be engaging with the security research community at CanSecWest 2011.

CanSecWest is one of the largest security conferences in the Pacific Northwest, and Adobe is proud to once again be a sponsor this year. Community engagement and event sponsorships are core aspects of our overall product security strategy and our commitment to doing whatever it takes to protect our customers. Members of the security community are our best allies when it comes to figuring out which initiatives to take on next as we all face a threat landscape that constantly changes.

This year at CanSecWest, we will be checking out the latest research on our technologies in hope of finding new ways to protect more customers. Our security researchers will be on hand for what looks to be a great three days of talks and community engagement. So if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say “hi.”

Steve Adegbite – Senior Security Strategist