Adobe Reader hit by cross-site scripting flaw

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Adobe Reader hit by cross-site scripting flaw

Vulnerability could allow malicious code to be tied to files from trusted

Vulnerability could allow malicious code to be tied to files from trusted

Security experts are warning of a vulnerability in Adobe Reader described as "trivially exploitable". 

The vulnerability leaves users exposed to a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability, according to the SANS Internet Storm Centre. 

An XSS exploit involves an attacker tagging malicious code onto trusted content.

A spokesman for Adobe told that the vulnerability does not affect Adobe Reader 8, and recommended that users update Reader to the new version. Adobe is working on a patch for previous versions.

An attacker could exploit the PDF vulnerability through a specially crafted website or email message that links to a PDF on a trusted site.

In addition to the link to the PDF document, the attacker could add JavaScript code that will execute once a visitor clicks on the link and the document is opened in the PDF reader.

"The attacker does not need to have write access to the specified PDF document," explained the Gnucitizen blog, which also provided a proof-of-concept code for the exploit. 

"In order to get an XSS vector working you need to have a PDF file hosted on the target and that's about it. The rest is just a matter of your abilities and desires."

The vulnerability stems from a feature in Adobe Reader called 'open parameters' that allows the program to receive and execute code when a PDF file is downloaded and launched.

The feature was designed to allow for document-specific information, such as size parameters, to be built in to downloaded PDF files.

"Like most things in life this was a feature designed for benign use, but somebody has discovered that it can also be used for malicious purposes," Hon Lau, a senior security response engineer at Symantec, said in a blog posting. 

The flaw was first described by security researchers Stefano Di Paola and Giorgio Fedon, who presented the attack during a lecture on Web 2.0 application security at last month's Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. 

The original discovery of the vulnerability has been credited to researcher Sven Vetsch. 

SANS recommends that users mitigate the vulnerability by disabling JavaScript.

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