Adobe Flaw Could Allow Hackers to Infiltrate a PC

Dennis Faas's picture

Adobe has issued a fix for what it is calling a top-priority security flaw. The bug could allow hackers to seize control of affected machines.

The update fixes problems with Adobe Reader, the software used to open and view PDF documents. It also affects Adobe Acrobat, the software used to create PDF files. Although Acrobat is not as popular as Reader, many people will be running at least one of the two programs.

The flaws involve memory corruption and buffer flow vulnerabilities which could allow a hacker to force a computer to crash. It's a tactic that's more likely to be targeted at businesses than home users.

However, the flaws could also allow hackers to use the computer memory to access other applications, effectively allowing them to take control of the system.

The vulnerability takes effect when a user opens a specially-crafted PDF file. It's already known that some hackers are sending emails designed to trick users into opening a malicious attachment. (Source:

Applying Fix Should Get Highest Priority

According to Adobe, for all Windows and Mac users, both vulnerabilities have the priority rating '1'. That means people are already exploiting the problem and users should apply the fix as soon as possible. (Source:

Adobe uses a separate rating system for the potential damage a vulnerability could inflict. In this case, both issues are rated "critical," meaning the hackers could control a computer remotely, possibly without the user even knowing control has been lost.

Forcing Manual Download May Be Needed

Users have several options for making sure their software is up-to-date.

The first is to use the update system found within the Adobe software. By default, this is set to check for updates at regular intervals, but you can force a check and (if needed) a download by opening Adobe Reader or Acrobat, clicking on "Help" then clicking "Check for Updates."

Another alternative is to visit Adobe's website, go to the support section, and navigate to the pages for your combination of application and operating system. From here you can download and run files that will install the updates.

In both cases you can carry on working while the updates are downloading, but you may need to restart your machine when they have finished installing.

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