Adobe builds sandbox for document security

Adobe Reader's next release will use strict policies to protect documents

As was reported by InformationWeek Government this week, Adobe is continuing its security initiative by introducing new features in its next release of Reader (presumably version 10), which is slated for release at the end of this year.

According to a blog post by Adobe’s Brad Arkin, a new Protected Mode will display a Portable Document Format file in a confined environment, or “sandbox.” If Reader tries to do something outside this sandbox, such as writing to a temporary folder or running an attachment, the program will use a strict set of policies to determine whether to allow the potentially illicit activity. The Protected Mode will apparently be the default mode of the new version.

Now, this new sandbox thing will only be initially available in the Windows version of Reader, which prompts questions of whether Adobe is merely responding to Apple’s recent snubbing of Flash. Personally, I don’t think that is the case this time out. Since the vast majority of PDF files are opened with Reader in the Windows environment, it follows that the Windows platform would be the more immediate security concern.

Hopefully, this new feature will allow Adobe to close the gate on Reader’s security vulnerabilities before all of the horses get out. Earlier this year Adobe announced that its new software updater will perform automatic updates, bringing Adobe into the same decade as everyone else in that area.

While we are on the subject of Reader, am I the only one who misses the days when Adobe called it “Acrobat Reader?” I mean, because everyone likes acrobats, right? Makes me nostalgic for those childhood trips to the circus, and now, those trips to the sandbox.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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