US-CERT Technical Cyber Security Alert TA08-309A -- Adobe Reader and Acrobat Vulnerabilities

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Nov 4, 2008, 4:44:51 PM11/4/08

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National Cyber Alert System

Technical Cyber Security Alert TA08-309A

Adobe Reader and Acrobat Vulnerabilities

Original release date: November 04, 2008
Last revised: --
Source: US-CERT

Systems Affected

* Adobe Reader version 8.1.2 and earlier
* Adobe Acrobat (Professional, 3D, and Standard) version 8.1.2 and earlier


Adobe has released Security Bulletin APSB08-19 to address multiple
vulnerabilities affecting Adobe Reader and Acrobat. The most severe of these
vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code.

I. Description

Adobe Security Bulletin APSB08-19 addresses a number of vulnerabilities that
affect the Adobe Acrobat family of products, including Adobe Reader.
Versions 8.1.2 and earlier are vulnerable. Further details are available in
the Vulnerability Notes Database.
An attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by convincing a user to load
a specially crafted Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Acrobat
integrates with popular web browsers, and visiting a website is usually
sufficient to cause Acrobat to load PDF content.

II. Impact

The impacts of these vulnerabilities vary. The most severe of these
vulnerabilities allows a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code.

III. Solution


According to the information in Adobe Security bulletin APSB08-19, users
with version 8 of Adobe Reader or Acrobat should upgrade to version 8.1.3.

Disable web browser display for PDF documents

Preventing PDF documents from opening inside a web browser may mitigate this
vulnerability. Applying the following workaround in conjunction with
upgrading may prevent similar vulnerabilities from being automatically

To prevent PDF documents from automatically being opened in a web browser
with Acrobat or Reader:
1. Open Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader
2. Open the Edit menu
3. Choose the Preferences option
4. Choose the Internet section
5. De-select the "Display PDF in browser" check box

Disable automatic opening of PDF documents in Microsoft Internet Explorer

Disabling automatic opening of PDF files in Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)
requires a second step. To configure IE to prompt before opening a PDF file,
disable the "Display PDF in browser" feature (as described above) and then
make the following changes to the Windows registry:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader and Acrobat

Disabling JavaScript in Adobe Reader and Acrobat may prevent this
vulnerability from being exploited. In Acrobat Reader, JavaScript can be
disabled in the General preferences dialog:
1. Open the Edit menu
2. Choose the Preferences option
3. Choose the JavaScript option
4. De-select "Enable Acrobat JavaScript"

IV. References

* Adobe Security Bulletin APSB08-19 -

* US-CERT Vulnerability Notes for Adobe Security Bulletin APSB08-19 -

* Securing Your Web Browser -


The most recent version of this document can be found at:


Feedback can be directed to US-CERT Technical Staff. Please send
email to <> with "TA08-309A Feedback VU#593409" in the

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Produced 2008 by US-CERT, a government organization.

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Revision History

November 4, 2008: Initial release

Version: GnuPG v1.4.5 (GNU/Linux)


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