Alarm over possible PDF flaw

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Oct 1, 2007

Vulnerability announcement hyped to disaster level.

The announcement of a potentially serious vulnerability in the ubiquitous Adobe PDF document format sparked considerable media attention last month, in some cases hyped to the level of a major disaster waiting to happen.

The vulnerability was found by researcher Petko Petkov and was announced in a blog entry. Little detail was provided at the time of the announcement, as the flaw had only just been reported to Adobe and no fix was yet available. As evidence, Petkov later released a video demonstration of the vulnerability being exploited, with PDF files shown executing Notepad and the Windows Calculator on opening. No official announcement regarding the issue has yet emerged from Adobe, but the researcher claims to have had private confirmation of his discovery from the company.

The blog entry was quickly picked up by fellow hackers, who joined in a lengthy debate on the find on the blog's comment page, and by the world's media, with initial sensible coverage in the technical press quickly giving way to alarmist pieces warning of zero-day attacks despite no exploit code yet having been spotted in use in the wild.

This latest example demonstrates once more the problems of full disclosure. While most vulnerabilities are not reported publicly until the appropriate fix can be made, the argument that people should be warned that a flaw exists so that they can take the necessary precautions is strong. The side effects, of potentially causing widespread panic, and also of telling the bad guys where they should be looking, need to be carefully weighed in the balance. The advent of vulnerability marketplaces adds another layer of confusion to the issue.

Posted on 01 October 2007 by Virus Bulletin

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2018 paper: Analysing compiled binaries using logic

Constraint programming is a lesser-known technique that is becoming increasingly popular among malware analysts. In a paper presented at VB2018 Thaís Moreira Hamasaki presented an overview of the technique and explained how it can be applied to the…

Virus Bulletin encourages experienced speakers and newcomers alike to submit proposals for VB2019

With a little less than a month before the deadline of the call for papers for VB2019, Virus Bulletin encourages submissions from experienced speakers and newcomers alike.

VB2018 paper: Internet balkanization: why are we raising borders online?

At VB2018 in Montreal, Ixia researcher Stefan Tanase presented a thought-provoking paper on the current state of the Internet and the worrying tendency towards raising borders and restricting the flow of information. Today we publish both his paper…

The malspam security products miss: banking and email phishing, Emotet and Bushaloader

The set-up of the VBSpam test lab gives us a unique insight into the kinds of emails that are more likely to bypass email filters. This week we look at the malspam that was missed: banking and email phishing, Emotet and Bushaloader.

VB2018 paper: Where have all the good hires gone?

The cybersecurity skills gap has been described as one of the biggest challenges facing IT leaders today. At VB2018 in Montreal, ESET's Lysa Myers outlined some of the things the industry can do to help address the problem. Today we publish Lysa's…

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.