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Attackers Infect Ads With Old Adobe Vulnerability 70

thethibs writes "eWeek is reporting that just as everyone is buzzing about the latest Adobe vulnerability, someone poisoned ads hosted by Ziff-Davis with an older Adobe exploit (affecting versions 8.12 and earlier, and long since patched). Z-D fixed the problem less than 24 hours after its first appearance. The interesting bit of this is that a bunch of people probably got hit with the old Trojan when they browsed to a story about the new one."
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Attackers Infect Ads With Old Adobe Vulnerability

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  • Adobe what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:12AM (#26978525)

    While it's fairly evident that they're talking about Adobe Reader, nowhere in the summary does it state which Adobe product this affects. Adobe is a company, not a product, even if it's not called Adobe Acrobat anymore!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RPoet ( 20693 )

      I find that most people who just say "Adobe" mean Adobe Photoshop. Apparently this guy meant Adobe Acrobat Reader. I suspected perhaps he meant Adobe Flash Player. Oh well.

    • Just based on the summary, 'poisoned ads' make me think it has nothing to do with Reader and everything to do with Flash.

      PDF ads... There's an interesting thought.
  • by Nossie ( 753694 ) <(IanHarvie) (at) (4Development.Net)> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:13AM (#26978537)

    to run scripts selectively ....

    Which I do, and with no script the way I have... *shrugs* the little extra hassle is worth all the benefits!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:27AM (#26978621)
      Yeah, because people like you (running noscript) are so likely to be running a 2-years-old version of Reader.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iztehsux ( 1339985 )
      Agreed. NoScript isn't a bad option. You could also fix up your hosts file to strip out the banner ads using a list like the one at [http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.txt" or even better, just use Lynx!
    • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3@[ ]oggy.com ['phr' in gap]> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:39AM (#26978685) Homepage

      Blocking scripts isn't guaranteed to protect you from this kind of attack, since the article specifically mentioned that the attack used iframes. Loading a PDF into an iframe can be done with no scripting; this will either trigger a file download or will invoke the Adobe Reader plug-in (or whatever other plug-in your browser is configured to use to display PDF files).

      However, if the iframe is inserted into the DOM by a script (not uncommon with advertisements these days), then yeah, blocking scripts would prevent it.

      Of course, I imagine the attempt to install a rogue application would trigger a UAC prompt on VIsta, protecting anyone on that platform who isn't a moron.

      • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slash ... il.com minus cat> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:46AM (#26978725) Homepage Journal

        Blocking scripts isn't guaranteed to protect you from this kind of attack, since the article specifically mentioned that the attack used iframes.

        Let me remind you that NoScript (TM) not only protects you from scripts. It also protects you from clickjacking (iframes or not), in-iframe browsing, embedded objects and other nuisances.

        With noscript installed, the only way I could be hit with malicious code would be through an html or css buffer overflow vulnerability - and that's why I keep my distro up to date.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:54AM (#26978767)

        Noscript blocks iframes, but not default enabled. You have to drill through preferences, which I do anyway, but some might not.
        Perhaps it's time to default-enable security enhancing features and if it BREAKS something, turn them off selectively, instead of the converse.
        Or is it more work to click through a menu than to reformat and reinstall because you got hosed?

        • I use a default deny policy when browsing the internet. There are only a few sites that have any business running scrips or giving me cookies. Everyone else is blocked.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
          That is why I use Adblock Plus WITH Noscript. Some may think it is overkill, but with Adblock Plus and Noscript I don't have to worry about nastiness like this, as anything one doesn't catch the other will.
  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3@[ ]oggy.com ['phr' in gap]> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:28AM (#26978627) Homepage

    So what servers were actually compromised by hackers? According to the article, Stephen Wellman, director of community and content for Ziff Davis Enterprise, says no ZD web sites were compromised and it "was not our fault." Whose fault was it? Does ZD use a third-party advertising service? If so, does anyone else use that same advertising service? If ZD runs its own ad servers, how is this not ZD's fault?

    • by cffrost ( 885375 )

      So what servers were actually compromised by hackers?


      Whose fault was it?


      Does ZD use a third-party advertising service?

      8.12. Adobe, 8.12!

      If so, does anyone else use that same advertising service?


      If ZD runs its own ad servers, how is this not ZD's fault?

      Ad.. adobe?

  • by Sporkinum ( 655143 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:29AM (#26978639)

    Our computers at work will probably get trashed from this. They only use Adobe reader, some old unpatched version, and only IE without any adblocking. Microsoft shop don't you know.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      I understand the resistance to upgrade a major version (9) but if one, especially a company doesn't apply a free update to same major version, that system is not managed and should be taken off the internet.

      As far as I know Adobe uses the ultra paranoid microsoft installer on Windows and it has excellent admin options like rollback and deployment.

      Old computer isn't an excuse, they are being real lazy. I mean one should use advantages of the platform if they are stuck with it.

      • I've got a customer that's using software - not legacy software, mind you - that requires, get this....Acrobat Reader 4.0. Install anything newer, and it won't work.

        Acrobat 4 being the antique POS that it is, it doesn't work on XP as anything other than admin.

        Because they have to run in an AD domain environment, that means the receptionist at the front desk has write access to \\server\C$. Brilliant. And the company that writes this crap software doesn't see this as a problem. And because this customer

        • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

          That is awful but it is really the original software's genius developer to blame.

          I wonder how he managed to do it since Acrobat is more like Quicktime in terms of way it is developed. You know, if a program is coded without massive hacks and depends on quicktime in 4.0 ages, you can update Quicktime to 7 and expect it to keep working as usual. I actually have couple of software even working with added performance in such situation.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @12:38AM (#26978683)

    If a "document" wants to _do_ anything, then it is not a document, and should be given the same trust as other programs. The Microsoftification of the world must stop.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, the early history of the evolution of the graphical web browser--after NCSA Mosaic was first released--tends to show the first ones to try to make an otherwise static HTML document have state (via cookies) and dynamic content (via LiveScript which later became JavaScript) would have been the ones who brought those features to the web in a *Netscape Navigator* release version.

      So I tend to go ahead and blame them for de-facto planting the early seeds that allowed for privacy risks and web page vulne

      • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:01AM (#26979053)

        Microsoft predates this with their stupid decision to have macros in Word 6.0 back in 1993. The first time that I read about that feature (that the macros could be saved in the document) I said that it would get used for making a virus. It actually took a surprisingly long time for the first virus to be released.

        I imagine that there must have been some similar "feature" in spreadsheets before that.

        • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:35AM (#26979731) Homepage Journal
          Its the decision to allow the macro script do other things outside of a word doc that is the problem.

          Who cares if accountants have macros that autosum three pages of figures. I just want to punch the idiot who thought that its ok to have a macro alter/save files other than the active file, or connect to outside data sources (e.g. teh intarwebz) without a big freaking' popup asking for a manual confirmation.

          What probably happened is some clever punk thought it would be smart to just tie it to the VBScript engine, and let anything happen, rather than developing a special macro language for office.
      • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:04AM (#26979071)

        ... rather than improperly blaming Microsoft

        Woah, woah, woah.... just where do you think you are?

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @02:34AM (#26979217) Journal

      You mean, like when a text file starts behaving like a program? What about simple text files with '#! /bin/sh' on the first line?

      Unix had it right: everything is a file. Period. Programs, data ports, IP connections, shell scripts. All files. simple, human-understandable permissions. This isn't anything to do with Microsoft, it's just the natural order of developers scratching their itch.

    • by GF678 ( 1453005 )

      If a "document" wants to _do_ anything, then it is not a document, and should be given the same trust as other programs. The Microsoftification of the world must stop.

      If we followed your logic, we'd never have web apps.

  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:08AM (#26978841)

    I see no mention in the summary of a specific product. Since I'm not going to RTFA, should I just assume that, since I don't own Adobe stock, I'm not affected?

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:17AM (#26978885) Homepage

    Don't have anonymous sex with strangers in bath-houses. Or if you must have anonymous sex with strangers in bath-houses use a condom. This has been a public service message.

    In other words, don't use AR. Use Evince (on Linux) or Sumatra PDF (Windows). If you must use AR, go to Edit, Preferences, JavaScript, and uncheck "Enable Acrobat JavaScript".

    No, none of this has much to do with PDF's merits as a file format. Embedding JS in PDF was a mistake. The mistake won't hurt you if you take these elementary precautions.

  • Ads through most of Ziff-Davis are run through an Ad serving system called DART- made by Double Click and owned by Google. What is interesting is that DART has an internal checker that scans rich media and .swf files for security vulnerabilities. It is surprising that these were not caught from the start.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The ads, as served from Ziff-Davis, performed redirects to a third-party site. It was this third-party site which was hosting the malicious pdf files. They probably escaped automatic checking in this manner.
      Any advertiser is going to want a click to end up as a vist to their site, one way or another - and once there it's out of Ziff-Davis' hands.
    • If dart can be compromised to serve up malicious files then chances are it can be compromised to disable this scan too.

  • What ads? (Score:1, Redundant)

    Jeez people, get with the program [adblockplus.org] already.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yup, this happened to me. Browsed to one of their pages using Firefox. Immediately, without any user interaction, a file called doc.pdf was downloaded from feelyouinside.com. Since I was using Firefox 10 with evince, everything stopped there. --AA

    • Maybe Ziff-Davis, and other site owners, should be insisting on sanitized ads. An image, some text, an html link - why should an advertiser require more?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @03:26AM (#26979445)

    I got hit before the weekend by a very similar one, but not exactly the same.

    Browsing with fully patched FF & WinXP. But yeah, I have the little puppy updater from Adobe disabled (because it tries to shit everywhere). Why can't people make an updater that is just an updater and doesn't try to sneak in other shit?

    Anyways, I was looking for some guitar cases, and a pop-under showed up (apparently this is another problem that can not be fixed a 100%...), and then a crash message saying "~.exe" had crashed. You try to google ~.exe, and see what you find...

    Okay, so I realize this is not good and bring up task manager and see a task named "4.pr". Fuck, this is really not good.

    So I unplug, go to another machine and figure some stuff out. There's two files in the c: root directory: p3.bat and 4.pr. Looks like also some rogue version of wdmaud.sys.

    Looks like the crash caused the trojan to not install successfully, but still, this is the first time in my > 20 years messing with computers that I got p0wned.

    So I'm mad as hell, and sure, I'm stupid. I know FF loads certain plugins automagically (which is something I really don't like) but I didn't really think of it loading AR... Normally I download PDFs first. As a matter of fact, I DON'T WANT to use AR as a plugin.

    In any case, I've decided a couple of things:
    - I will never install Acrobat Reader again. I will advise anyone that listens to do the same. Either find an alternative, or just forget about viewing the content. It can't be that important.
    - For other plugins, especially those that are hard to do without like Flash, I will search for Open Source alternatives.
    - VMs. I never liked VMs, but it seems like there's no way around it. I'm thinking three VMs: one for crazy browsing, one for the normal stuff (eBay/slashdot) and one for sensitive stuff (banks/paypal). The big advantage is that you can snapshot them, so that if one gets hit, you aren't immediately dead in the water. Instead you fire up the old snapshot.
    - Again review what can be done to have a reasonable browsing experience while having plugins disabled by default.
    - All (remotely) sensitive data goes on a truecrypt drive that automatically dismounts. I've been using it for really sensitive data and it works great.

    But the other thing I have to say though: PLEASE Firefox developers, have a mode that does NOT load any plugins, but displays their content as an empty square first. Then if you want to see it, I can click on it or something. Maybe noscript is the thing; last time I looked it was too tedious to use. Maybe now I'll feel differently.

    btw. Just for shits an grins, you should look at what plugins are installed for Firefox: Tools->Add-ons->Plugins tab. I was surprised to say the least.

    • Install noscript, and use it to turn off plug ins except where you want them. My computer is set with a default deny policy for browsing the internet. I have noscript, I block everything untrusted, including flash and iframe, I also have CookieSafe, and I block all cookies except those I want, and I have adblock plus to block all adds, and malicious tracking sites. NoScript will block almost all active content in Firefox. If that's not good enough install Opera, and configure it how you want it (Opera i
    • Just for shits an grins, you should look at what plugins are installed for Firefox: Tools->Add-ons->Plugins tab.


      So I look and I find:

      • Default Plug-in (Netscape Navigator Default Plug-in)
      • Java Embedding Plug-in
      • Quick Time Plug-in
      • Shockwave Flash
      • Shockwave for Director

      Am I supposed to find something sinister here?

      Just curious, because here's my typical FF Extension/Addons/Etc. Set that I run under Win and Mac FF 3:

      Enabled Extensions: [16]

      * Adblock Filterset.G Updater 0.3.1

  • by Spatial ( 1235392 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @09:25AM (#26980901)
    I have PDFs set to automatically download to my desktop in FF, since the Adobe plugin has a habit of crashing and it's very slow.

    It seems that I was fortunate. I never opened them since I didn't know where they came from, they went straight to the bin.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982