Adobe PDF Security Issues, Acrobat Vulnerabilities, PDF Cracks
This page contains information on security issues, vulnerabilities, flaws and cracks in Adobe PDF and PDF Security products.
It also covers PDF Security news articles on other companies using the Adobe PDF plug-in / security handler and how they have been compromised. News on PDF ebook security is also covered here as well as third party PDF DRM suppliers.
For an up to date list of Adobe Reader security advisories please see Adobe's web site
PDF Security Issues, PDF & Ebook Weak Implementations
Bypassing Adobe Security controls on the Mac
This paper explains how to bypass Adobe PDF Security using a Mac computer.
How the Adobe PDF Security Handler works
"Adobe's PDF protection scheme is a classic example of security through obscurity. They encrypt the content of a PDF file and hope that no one figures out how to decrypt it." This paper explains how Adobe encrypts PDF files.
10 things you really wished you had known about PDF DRM, but they didn't tell you
This paper explains the current pitfalls of PDF security. If the PDF security solution you decide on can be circumvented by simple means, or is complex to setup and use then you might want to look elsewhere.
PDF Security plug-in vulnerabilities
If you think PDF plug-ins can't compromise your security then perhaps you should read this.
PDF Security and Malware
How Secure Is PDF?
This paper discusses the flaws in the Acrobat Standard Security handler.
PDF security attacks account for 28% of all malmare
Analysis of E-book Security
This paper makes a survey on main e-book standards, application architectures and security mechanisms. The security strength and weakness of the investigated e-book systems are analyzed and presented.
Adobe Acrobat PDF Security Vulnerabilities - 2013
Malicious PDFs install malware on user's computers - Febuary 2013
Adobe are to release an emergency PDF security patch to their Acrobat software after malicious PDFs have been circulating in the wild that install apps on the victim's computer which steal passwords and system configuration data, and can log keystrokes. Acrobat and Adobe Reader on both Windows and Mac are vulnerable. Evidently the Sandbox is not that effective after all...
Adobe Acrobat PDF Security Issues - 2011
Adobe limits PDF security vulnerabilities with improved Reader Sandbox - October 2011
The latest Adobe Reader software comes with new internal security features and an improved sandbox that will make the products harder to attack and exploit, according to Adobe. At last, a secure Adobe PDF Viewer?
Apple addresses PDF security issue with iOS update - July 2011
The security update plugs a hole that could allow a hacker to utilize a maliciously crafted PDF file to gain access to a user's system. Visiting a site with this exploit could lead to unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.
13 new PDF security vulnerabilities fixed in Adobe Reader - June 2011
The 13 new bugs included memory corruption vulnerabilities, buffer and heap overflow bugs, a cross-document scripting flaw, a DLL load hijacking vulnerability and a "security bypass" bug (a Reader X-only vulnerability that under certain circumstances lets an attacker force the Reader browser plug-in to download a non-PDF file).
Adobe PDF Security Issues & PDF DRM Vulnerabilities - 2010
PDF Security issues to be sandboxed in Adobe X - November 2010
Adobe continue to be plagued by PDF Security issues - November 2010
The latest PDF security issues affect Adobe Reader and could lead to a full scale denial of service attack or remote execution of malicious code on a user's computer.
Secure PDF Viewer released by Google enhances PDF Security - November 2010
Google have announced the beta release of their integrated PDF viewer to the Chrome Browser. PDF files are automatically opened in a sandbox within the browser to stop PDF security issues such as malicious code from executing on the user's computer.
Microsoft Toolkit fixes PDF security issues - September 2010
Microsoft have release a toolkit that can be used to fix a security flaw in Acrobat and Acrobat Reader and prevent a hacker taking over a user's computer when they open an 'infected' file. Malicious PDF files exploiting this flaw have been found circulating the Internet. Adobe have yet to release their own patch for this PDF security issue despite issuing a security bulletin in which they announced that the flaw was indeed critical.
FileOpen Crack: FileOpen Publisher & WebPublisher crack updated - September 2010
The Inept PDF Decrypter released back in June to decrypt FileOpen PDF files is being actively updated (FileOpen crack updates occurred in July, August & September). The publisher claims that the FileOpen hack script will remove all DRM restrictions from any FileOpen protected pdf file produced by FileOpen Publisher, FileOpen WebPublisher, FileOpen RightsManager or FileOpen RightsServer.
Adobe release PDF security patch for latest Acrobat & Reader PDF security issues - August 2010
Folowing releases from Foxit and Apple to fix PDF security issues in their own Readers/Browsers, Adobe has released their latest patch to prevent a potential hacker crashing and then gaining control of a user's computer. Adobe Acrobat Security Patch
PDF Security fix annouced by Apple fixes major PDF security issues - August 2010
Apple has produced a security fix for the iPhone and iPad to create a more secure Adobe PDF environment. The PDF security exploit could let hackers do critical damage to your iOS device if you simply open a malicious PDF file. Apple are urging users to upgrade to the latest release which while fixing the PDF security issues, also stops the iPhone and iPad from being JailBroken...
Foxit Fix PDF Security issues to protect users from malicious PDFs - August 2010
It took Foxit Software Corporation just 48 hours to provide a security fix to their 100 million user base which enabled hackers to use malicious PDFs to access sensitive data on users computers. PDF security issues still continue to affect Acrobat however as Adobe have yet to provide a fix for their reader.
PDF Security issues in Adobe Reader leaves systems open to attack - August 2010
The latest PDF security issue to hit Acrobat is due to the way in which the reader parses fonts. This can be used by a hacker to produce a stack overflow error which then enables the intruder to remotely run malicious code on the affected computer.
PDF Security issues enable Apple's iPhone and iPad to be hacked - August 2010
A user visiting a malicious site using Safari can have their device hacked and/or infected with malicious files. If you visit a web page with a PDF that contains a program that causes a stack overflow, then this gives a hacker deep access to your iPhone or iPad. The exploit is possible on any iOS device running OS 3.1.2 or later.
PDF Security issues to be made top of Adobe's agenda - July 2010
Adobe are said to be looking at introducing a sand box in their next release of Acrobat Viewer to prevent malicious exectution of code infecting user's computers.
PDF Security issues continue as latest Adobe fix is compromized - July 2010
The PDF security fix that Adobe provided for malicious code execution in Adobe Acrobat and Reader can be circumvented by attackers just by adding quote marks to their code. Malicious code can therefore still be executed and trojans installed on user's computers without their knowledge.
Adobe is the no. 1 target for malware attacks - June 2010
FileOpen crack - FileOpen PDF Security Handler cracked - June 2010
The same company that cracked the Adobe Adept DRM for EPUB has reverse engineered the FileOpen PDF DRM system. This crack affects FileOpen Publisher, FileOpen WebPublisher, FileOpen RightsManager and FileOpen RightsServer.
Flash security issue affects Adobe PDF security - June 2010
Just like last year, hackers exploited the bug in authplay.dll using rigged PDF documents, and also used it in drive-by attacks that enticed users into viewing malicious Flash streaming media on attack sites. Reader and Acrobat users can protect themselves by deleting or renaming authplay.dll. Doing so, however, means that opening a PDF file containing Flash content will crash the software or produce an error message.
PDF security design issue enables deployment of Zeus Trojan - April 2010
A PDF design issue is being exploited, enabling attackers to infect users with the Zeus Trojan. According to Websense, attackers have been sending e-mails with a malicious PDF file. The attack is similar to a technique security researcher Didier Stevens disclosed two weeks before that used the launch action function to launch an embedded executable in a PDF file.
PDF specification enables wormable attack - April 2010
PDF exploit requires no specific security hole to function - March 2010
PDF security specialist Didier Stevens has developed a PDF document which is capable of infecting a PC – without exploiting a specific vulnerability. Stevens says he used the "Launch Actions/Launch File" option, which can start scripts and EXE files that are embedded in the PDF document.
PDF Security Issues & PDF DRM Flaws and Cracks - 2009
Barnes and Noble EPUB DRM cracked - December 2009
The Barnes & Noble Desktop Reader application (BDReader) uses a modified Adobe Adept scheme, and stores decryption keys in plain text in a sqlite database, thus proving to be an easy attack.
Internal disk path location exposed by lack of PDF security - November 2009
The privacy issue arises from the fact that your local disk path gets invisibly embedded inside your PDF files in the title attribute. When users print your PDF documents the local disk path is displayed. Users can also open your PDF documents in a text editor (i.e. notepad) to display your local disk path.
PDF DRM product exposes users computers to potential security risk - May 2009
Security company tells users to stop using Adobe Acrobat Reader - April 2009
Of the targeted attacks so far this year, more than 47 percent of them exploit holes in Acrobat Reader while six vulnerabilities have been discovered that target the program, Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of security firm F-Secure, said in a briefing with journalists. Top-level executives, defense contractors, and other people who have access to specific sensitive corporate or government information are subject to targeted attacks where an attacker sends a file that has malicious code embedded in it. Once the file is opened, the computer is infected typically with a back door that then steals data.
Protected PDF crack / hack: PDF security through obscurity - April 2009
A hack to unlock protectedpdf files has been published that clearly shows the security offered by this PDF DRM software is simple to remove and is therefore no better than standard Adobe PDF password protection.
PDFs under attack yet again - March 2009
A critical vulnerability identified in Adobe Reader 9 and Acrobat 9 as well as earlier versions will call the aforementioned applications to crash and could allow an attacker to take control of the affected systems. Adobe also acknowledged that there are reports the vulnerability issue is already being exploited.
PDF file can install malware without you even opening it! - March 2009
Adobe Adept DRM for EPUB cracked - February 2009
"There is very little obfuscation in how Adobe Digital Editions hides and encrypts the per-user RSA key, allowing fairly simple duplication of exactly the same process Digital Editions uses to retrieve it."
Ziff Davis Enterprise serves Acrobat exploit through a malicious PDF file - February 2009
PDF Security Issues & Acrobat Flaws & Cracks - 2008
Adobe 9 has 100 times weaker security than previous version - November 2008
ElcomSoft, the company that discovered a security weakness in Adobe's eBook software back in 2001, has found vulnerability in another Adobe Product. While Adobe advertises Acrobat 9 as the most secure PDF production tool ever with enhanced 256-bit encryption, ElcomSoft has discovered that the new PDF protection system implemented in Acrobat 9 is even faster to recover than in previous versions. In fact, a hundred times faster. "The new version of Adobe Acrobat is easier to break", claims ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov, quoting a speed increase of two orders of magnitude for the new format. "The new product has surprisingly weak protection", he adds. According to ElcomSoft's CEO, using 256-bit AES encryption per se is not enough to achieve ultimate security without employing complex approach and consideration of the entire security system.
Bugs in Adobe PDF exploited by hackers - November 2008
Malicious hackers have targetted the PDF format yet again, exploiting the latest patches released from Adobe. At least one of the hacks is not quarantined by anti-virus software and enables the attacker to take control of the affected system as per the non-patched versions in May of this year.
PDF exploits on the rise - September 2008
Adobe has patched 17 security vulnerabilities in the Windows version of its Reader 8 software so far this year, in four separate patches. New toolkits appearing on the market specifically target vulnerabilities in PDF files to gain access to user's computers and Adobe's use of allowing more sophisticated technology to run within PDF files is to blame.
Adobe PDF flaw could allow an attacker to take control of your system - May 2008
Critical vulnerabilities have been identified in Adobe Reader and Acrobat 8 and 7. These vulnerabilities would cause the application to crash and could allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.
Adobe PDF exploit infects 'many thousands,' says researcher - February 2008
PDF attacks more likely in the future - January 2008
The recent Adobe patch has done little to ease the fear of security concious users. Exploit-laden PDF files will become more common in spear phishing attacks in the future since the Portable Document Format (PDF) is a de-facto standard for exchanging electronic documents online. PDF files have traditionally been unfiltered at the gateway and until recently were considered risk free–in contrast to the notorious history associated with Microsoft Office documents. With the release of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, however, Microsoft has made it more difficult for attackers to use buffer overflow exploits. Therefore exploit writers are more likely to target the lower hanging fruit. Exploiting vulnerabilities in popular applications from Adobe, Apple, or RealPlayer are proving to be just as advantageous and profitable.
Acrobat PDF Security Issues, Flaws & Cracks - 2007
PDF Bug Compromises Windows PCs without users knowledge - September 2007
A PDF vulnerability in Adobe's Acrobat Reader has come to light that can lead to Windows PCs getting taken over completely without the users knowledge. All it takes is to open a maliciously rigged PDF document or stumble across a page which embeds one. Paul Henry, vice president of technology and evangelism at Secure Computing warned, the PDF threat is real. "The ability to use PDFs to install malware and steal personal information from remote PCs is here," he said in a statement." Readers should be cautioned to only open PDF files from senders they explicitly trust."
Adobe 8 PDF password security broken - July 2007
A single click of a button in pdf-Recover will remove the password, regardless of whether it has been encrypted using 40-bit RC4, 128-bit RC4 or even the latest 128-bit AES Adobe 8 Generation technology. The result is an exact replica of the original PDF without any security settings whatsoever – pdf-Recover removes all of the restrictions implemented. The program is available for Windows 95 and later, MacOSX and Linux, and costs €19.
Latest critical Acrobat flaw puts user's computers at risk - June 2007
Another critical security vulnerability in Acrobat can let attackers crash vulnerable applications and execute arbitrary commands.
Deal plans revealed in Joost's PDF documents - May 2007
Another company falls foul of the PDF format not realizing that hidden text can be easily revealed by copying it into notepad.
Latest Acrobat Reader vulnerability puts user's files at risk - January 2007
PDF Security Issues and Ebook Security Flaws / Cracks - 2006
Adobe drop Acrobat Reader in DRM secure ebook product - October 2006
For Adobe's latest secure ebook product, Digital Editions, Acrobat Reader is not supported. Instead, users will have to download a new viewer that enforces DRM controls. Adobe state the 20MB+ file size of Acrobat Reader as one of the reasons they are not using it, but one suspects the fact that Acrobat Reader was not built with security in mind could be another.
Malicious code can be launched in at least 9 ways in PDF files - September 2006
Whilst Acrobat is rich in features it is these very features that leave it open to attack. A malicious user can manipulate legitimate features in Adobe PDF files to open back doors for computer attacks. Malicious links (once the document is opened, the target's browser is automatically launched and loads the embedded link), attacks that use Adobe Systems' ADBC (Adobe Database Connectivity) and Web Services support, use of HTML forms and file system access are just some of the ways Acrobat can be compromised by a malicious user.
ElcomSoft release PDF password cracker that breaks 128 bit encryption - August 2006
The utility borrows all the idle processing bandwidth on a network to brute-force-attack a password-protected PDF. ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov says that the tool wasn't designed to enable mischief makers, but rather, to combat mischief itself. From his security expert's point of view, however, he opines that document-level password protection technically isn't DRM (digital rights management). And because of the plug-in architecture of Acrobat and PDF readers, it makes PDF a less-secure platform for DRM.
Full details of the product and pricing information can be found at ElcomSoft's web site.
Acrobat flaw could result in remote code exectuion - July 2006
Adobe released a patch on 11th July for a flaw that could allow a malicious PDF document to trigger buffer overflow. The overflow could cause Adobe Acrobat to crash and result in remote code execution if malicious content is inserted into a PDF file, according to the Adobe advisory. The flaw is considered critical by the company.
Acrobat secure PDF files compromised with 'view as HTML' function - April 2006
Acrobat secure PDF files that are received in Gmail can be viewed as HTML if the 'View as HTML' link is selected. The full document is displayed as HTML even if the original PDF is secured against content copying or extraction. Respecting security permissions on a PDF file is therefore something that must be done on a "honor" basis by the application!
Adobe PDF Security Issues, Flaws & Cracks - 2005
Adobe Acrobat user gaffe exposes classified Defense information - May 2005
A military report on an investigation into the shooting death of an Italian security agent includes blocks of classified data that can be deciphered as easily as copying and pasting text. Multinational Forces-Iraq issued the report in Adobe Portable Document Format on April 30 as an unclassified document, with blocks of classified redacted information obscured from public view. But copying and pasting the classified sections into Microsoft Notepad reveals the blocked text. The breach was discovered by an Italian blogger shortly after the report was posted.
Wiley's ebooks cracked despite using " secure" PDF DRM - May 2005
Wiley Publishers acknowledge that the protection used in FileOpen PDF DRM is not up to much - the pirated ebooks are available before the print books are distributed to all the bookstores who have ordered them.
FileOpen Publisher and Adobe PDF Security Issues & Cracks - 2004
$20 Million Copyright Award A Boost To Publishers - September 2004
Specialized-information publishers won another weapon in their fight to protect their products from copyright violations last week when a federal court jury in Baltimore awarded NEPA member Paul Desmond a nearly $20 million judgment against financial-services firm Legg Mason Inc. for violating his company’s copyright. Desmond, president of Lowry’s Reports, Inc., of North Palm Beach, FL, sued Baltimore-based Legg Mason after receiving reports that the company had been systematically circulating and putting on its intranet electronic copies (PDF) of Lowry’s Market Trend Analysis, a daily e-mail stock market commentary, for more than a decade.
Flaw in FileOpen Publisher allows 'secure' PDF documents to be opened without a key - September 2004
A serious flaw in FileOpen Publisher allows users to open "protected PDF documents" without entering an authorization code.
Adobe Plug-ins compromised - July 2004
There are many Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader plug-ins that can load (by design) only in certified mode. One example is all documents protected with "Adobe DRM" security handler (so-called eBooks). Certified mode assures that all other plug-ins, loaded with those ones, have been also certified by Adobe. However, with this vulnerability, the plug-in with forged signature can perform virtually everything, including but not limited to:
- removing or modifying any restrictions (from copying text to Clipboard, printing etc) from the documents loaded into Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader
- remove any DRM (Digital Rights Management) schemes from PDF documents, regardless the encryption handler used - WebBuy, InterTrust DocBox, Adobe DRM (EBX) etc.
- modify or remove digital signatures used within a PDF document
- affect any/all other aspects of a document's confidentiality, integrity and authenticity.
The official US-CERT posting can be viewed here along with Adobe's response
FileOpen is just 'snake oil' - April 2004
"FileOpen protection (including one implemented in expensive and "very secure" WebPublisher can be removed either instantly or in a matter of a few hours -- without Adobe Reader, FileOpen plug-in itself or whatever. I'd call it "snake-oil" (see Bruce Schneier's definition of the term) because of multiple vulnerabilities. Their main protection is DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act.)" - Vladimir Katalov, Managing Director, ElcomSoft Co.Ltd.
Adobe PDF Security Issues & Vulnerabilities - 2003
Adobe Acrobat and PDF security: no improvements for 2 years. Software released in 2003 contains vulnerabilities disclosured in 2001 - July 2003
In early 2001, Elcomsoft discovered a serious security flaw in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader. In July 2001, they briefly described it in "eBook Security: Theory and Practice" speech on DefCon security conference. Since there was no reaction from Adobe (though Adobe representative has attended the conference), they reported this vulnerability to CERT in September 2002 (after more than a year), still not disclosing technical details to the public. Only in March 2003, CERT Vulnerability Note (VU#549913) was published, and after a week, Adobe has responded officially (for the first time) issuing the Vendor Statement (JSHA-5EZQGZ), promising to fix the problem in new versions of Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software expected in the second quarter of 2003. When these versions became available, whilst some minor improvements have been made, the whole Adobe security model was still very vulnerable, and so Elcomsoft sent a follow-up to both CERT and Adobe. Both parties failed to respond.
Adobe PDF Ebook Security Issues & Cracks - 2002
ElcomSoft acquitted - December 2002
In a blow to a controversial copyright law, a federal jury in San Jose on Tuesday acquitted a Russian firm of charges that it sold software designed to crack security on Adobe Systems' electronic book technology.
Russian firm points out new Adobe flaw - July 2002
Thumbing its nose at the company that landed one of its employees in jail, ElcomSoft is pointing out new flaws in Adobe Systems' eBook software. The flaws could allow someone to check out every copy of every book in Adobe's new electronic library for an unlimited amount of time by changing the values in the loan form.
PDF Security, FileOpen and Ebook Security Flaws & Cracks - 2001
FileOpen Publisher and E-Book Security Pro weaknesses exposed - August 2001
Ebook Pro - "The $197 e-book protection software is advertised as 100% burglarproof and claims a list of Fortune 500 companies as its customers. Sklyarov found that the software "encrypts" e-books by mixing each byte of the text with a constant byte. This is a technique so weak that it probably shouldn't even be called cryptography."
FileOpen Publisher - "The code can be broken instantly. FileOpen software, puts key information in the encrypted document, which is sort of like leaving your car with the keys in the ignition. FileOpen was chosen as an Adobe "security partner", which leads me to wonder how closely Adobe examines the cryptography used by its partners."
Adobe PDF Security and FileOpen cracked - August 2001
Feds arrest Russian cracker for breaking Adobe's PDF security controls. Last year ElcomSoft produced a piece of software that cracked FileOpen's code -- potentially driving it out of business.
Adobe FAQ: ElcomSoft legal background
FileOpen Systems responds to ElcomSoft PDF decryption - July 2001
FileOpen Systems condemns the actions of ElcomSoft in releasing software to remove encryption from PDF files.
ElcomSoft's Adobe PDF decryption banned in the US but not in Europe - July 2001
"In Germany and Scandinavia, our software is absolutely legal. We have requests from different companies who are ready to translate this program to German and distribute it in Germany without any limitations."
eBook security is an absolute joke and is even weaker than the standard PDF security - July 2001
It appears that the security placed on Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader files is not stronger but feebler than that for PDF files.
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