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Adobe PDF exploits have doubled since 2009

April 29, 2010

A McAfee security expert this week revealed that the number of exploits using Adobe PDF files has almost doubled since 2009. The security researcher, Toralv Dirro, found that in 2008 only 2% of spyware attacks used PDF files as their attack vector. That number increased to 17% in 2009 and exploded to 28% in 2010. Microsoft has stated that in 2009 46% of web browser attacks involved PDF files.  Symantec puts the number at 49% in an article published last week.

The reason why this percentage is so high is because Adobe PDF files are the universal default used by people world wide to exchange information. Adobe Acrobat Reader has been written to work on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.  As we have stated in the past, hackers will target software that gives them the biggest bang for their buck.  That is why they are focusing so much on PDF vulnerabilities because the market share is so large.

Adobe has stated that a majority of attacks occur because people are not loading updates from Adobe.  Unfortunately, hackers are now actively exploiting a new vulnerability we discussed previously.  Adobe has not yet addressed this issue but our article explains how to temporarily disable the attack vector until a fix is released.


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