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Security expert finds a way to exploit PDF without a vulnerability

30 Mar 2010 | | No Comment

Didier Stevens, a security expert, created a Proof of Concept (PoC) in which he executed an embedded executable in a test PDF file without exploiting any security vulnerabilities in PDF software. This clever mechanism could allow hackers to execute attacks through embedding rogue executables in a simple PDF files which when opened by innocent users could cause harm and may result in fraudulant activities.

Didier Stevens created PoC PDFs for tests on Adobe Reader 9.3.1 and Foxit Reader on Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7. Didier Stevens explains that when executing PoC PDFs on Adobe Reader, the Reader displays a warning message to the user for an approval to launch the executable which can also be manipulated from displaying. While the Foxit Reader does not even display any warning or message and is worst of the two Readers.

Didier Stevens has shared his PoC PDFs with Adobe PSIRT for a possible fix to avoid such manipulation of PDF files.

Read Didier Stevens’ entire PoC exercise on his blog at http://blog.didierstevens.com/2010/03/29/escape-from-pdf/

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