Thanks, Adobe. Protection for critical zero-day exploit not on by default

The recently discovered zero-day attacks targeting critical vulnerabilities in Adobe's ubiquitous Reader application are able to bypass recently added security defenses unless end users manually make changes to default settings, company officials said.

According to an advisory Adobe published Wednesday night, the "protected view" feature prevents the current attacks from working—but only if it's manually enabled. To turn it on, access Preferences > Security (Enhanced) and then check the "Files from potentially unsafe locations," or even the "All files" option. Then click OK. There's also a way for administrators to enable protected view on Windows machines across their organization.

The revelation is significant because it means users aren't protected when using the default version of the widely used document reader. The limitation came to light following the discovery of in-the-wild attacks against current versions of Reader, which are being exploited to surreptitiously install malware on end-user computers. The exploit is also noteworthy because its intricate code base bypasses several additional protections added just four months ago with the goal thwarting malware attacks.

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Patch Tuesday part two – Adobe patches Reader, Flash and more

Adobe have released their latest batch of quarterly security updates covering Flash, Shockwave, Reader, Acrobat, ColdFusion, LifeCycle and Blaze.

Flash logoAfter only 9 days another zero day exploit has been fixed in Adobe Flash player. Adobe released updates for Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris and Linux today at Updates for the Android version of Flash Player should be posted before the end of the week. This flaw is being exploited in the wild and is considered critical.

Shockwave player for Windows and Mac saw 24 vulnerabilities fixed this quarter, begging the question of why anyone still installs this software. That is an extremely large attack surface for something hardly used on modern websites… If you are still using Shockwave you can get the latest version from All 24 flaws can lead to code execution.

Reader logoAdobe Reader and Acrobat have also been patched to address critical vulnerabilities. Adobe have fixed 13 vulnerabilities, some of which only apply to Adobe Reader X and were patched in previous emergency releases for other versions.

Most importantly, the Adobe ASSET blog announced that Adobe Acrobat 10.1 now includes the sandbox mode made available earlier this year in Adobe Reader X. The latest releases can be retrieved by choosing Help -> Check for updates or by visiting

Lifecycle and Blaze have been updated to address two important security vulnerabilities. More information on the flaws and how to patch is available in Adobe security bulletin APSB11-15.

Adobe ColdFusion also is vulnerable to two important security vulnerabilities that could lead to denial of service (DoS) and cross-site request forgery (CSRF) problems. Details are available in Adobe security bulletin APSB11-14.

Adobe logoI would like to commend Brad Arkin and the Adobe team on being much more reliable on releasing their updates in a predictable manner. The information provided by Adobe makes it easier for researchers and IT administrators alike to maintain their software.

There is still work to do on reducing the number of out of band updates and the quantity of flaws, but they are certainly heading in the right direction. Now, let’s go patch.