This week is quite an exciting one: Adobe has officially released a pre-release version of Flash Player for Firefox with a sandbox. The concept of a sandbox, or protected mode, has been around for many years, but it is fair to say that Google Chrome’s sandbox has helped make this concept better known among end-users. Another product that has successfully implemented a sandbox is Adobe Reader X: We have yet to hear about a case where an exploit was able to break out of the sandbox.
The fact that the Reader sandbox held up so far is a good indicator that the Flash Player version could hold up for some time as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
A sandbox is supposed to lock an application into a restricted space so that even if a vulnerability is found in the software, it cannot be exploited to do damage on the system. So if you were to visit a website that is hosting a malicious Flash file, it will not actually be able to break out of Flash Player’s sandbox and do damage to the system. Creating a sandbox is usually achieved by dropping the application to a low-integrity process. Being low-integrity, it can’t access the system in uncontrolled ways.
Peleus Uhley wrote some very interesting blog posts on sandboxing that go into a little more technical detail:
I encourage everyone to give the pre-release a shot and try the sandbox out for yourself. If you run into any issues with Protected Mode for Flash Player, please feel free to leave your feedback in the pre-release forums.
If you are a security researcher and you have feedback that is valuable to our security minded folks at Adobe, please use one of our security notification methods.