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Adobe Update Patches 36 Critical Bugs

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Adobe’s security update has patched some critical vulnerabilities for Reader, Acrobat, Shockwave and Flash

Adobe has issued another important security update for its product portfolio, with the latest instalment repairing 11 vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader; 24 vulnerabilities in Shockwave Player; and another serious flaw in Flash Player.

The Flash Player bug could cause a crash and allow an attacker to take complete control of a system, Adobe said in its announcement.

“These vulnerabilities could allow an attacker, who successfully exploits these vulnerabilities, to run malicious code on the affected system,” Adobe said.

Long Admin Wait

Adobe patched Adobe Reader X and Acrobat X for Windows and Mac (APSB11-16), corresponding fixes in 8.x and 9.x versions, Shockwave Player for Windows and Mac (APSB11-17), and Flash Player (APSB11-18) for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris. An updated version of the Flash Player for Android is expected later in the week, Adobe said.

Important vulnerabilities in ColdFusion (APSB11-14), LiveCycle Data Services, LiveCycle ES and Blaze DS (APSB11-15) were also closed for Windows, Mac OS X and Unix versions.

“Some of these fixes have been a long wait for administrators,” said Jason Miller, manager of research and development at VMware.

Several of the zero-day vulnerabilities that were resolved in Adobe Reader X in this update were addressed for 8.x and 9.x versions in March and April. Adobe had chosen to not update Reader X at the time because the sandbox technology in the latest version trapped the exploits and prevented them from executing. The vulnerabilities were exploited in the wild against older versions while Reader X remained unpatched, Miller said.

Adobe Prioritisation

“Throughout 2010 malware developers have heavily exploited weakness in both Flash and especially PDF technologies,” McAfee Labs found in its Q4 2010 Threats Report. As a result, administrators should prioritise Adobe patches, McAfee said.

Adobe added Protected View, the sandbox technology present in Reader X and Acrobat X with this update, Joel Geraci, Acrobat technical evangelist at Adobe, wrote on the IT Matters blog. “Just like Reader, Acrobat strictly confines the execution environment of untrusted PDF files and the processes they invoke,” Geraci said.

Adobe also enhanced Reader and Acrobat X with the auto-update capability. Adobe added an updater utility a year ago that resulted in users installing the updates “roughly three times faster than before,” Steve Gottwals, group product manager of Adobe Reader, wrote on the Reader blog. The latest versions of Reader and Acrobat X now have a fully automated capability so that the software can be updated without user intervention, Gottwals said.

Patch Importance

“The vast majority of attacks we are seeing are exploiting software installations that are not current with the latest security updates,” Bard Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy at Adobe, wrote on the Adobe Secure software Engineering Team blog.

Administrators will need to consider the large Patch Tuesday release from Microsoft when prioritising the patching schedule. “The combo MS11-050/052, together with APSB11-016 from Adobe and Java CPU June 2011, is the first highest priority set of vulnerabilities to address this week,” Wolfgang Kandek, the CTO of Qualys, said.

VMware’s Miller said the update often accompanies a trickle of updates from third-party software makers who have Flash embedded in their products. An example would be Google’s Chrome web browser because Flash is bundled inside the software.

Separately, Adobe issued updates for its iPad apps that integrate with Photoshop. The three apps – Adobe Nav, Adobe Color Lava and Adobe Eazel – were originally launched in May. They were revised and updated with new features, Adobe said.