Adobe Flash hacked

Malicious codes are being sent through e-mail; fix promised soon

Adobe has released a security advisory on a "critical" vulnerability in its Flash Player that could cause a system crash and allow for remote access by an attacker. Along with disclosing the vulnerability, Adobe has confirmed that the hole has already been taken advantage of by hackers.

"Reports that we've received thus far indicate the attack is targeted at a very small number of organizations and limited in scope," wrote Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy at Adobe, in a blog posting. "The current attack leverages a malicious Flash (.SWF) file inside a Microsoft Excel (.XLS) file." He then wrote that the malicious files are being sent through e-mail and installed when opened.

Adobe disclosed that it hasn't seen any attacks delivered through a .PDF file as of yet, but warns that similar exploits can and have been transported in this fashion. In response, it has shipped an out-of-cycle update for Adobe Reader, Acrobat v9 and Acrobat X that should avoid this exploit from executing.

Those running Adobe Reader X on a Windows machine don't have to worry about the exploit due to the software's sandbox protection feature. "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," said Arkin. "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."

As for the vulnerability in its Flash Player, Adobe is currently in the process of finalizing a fix for the issue, which will come in the form of an update sometime during the week of March 21.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the associate Web editor for 1105 Enterprise Computing Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, ADTmag.com and VirtualizationReview.com.

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