Adobe patches Flash bug hackers are already exploiting

The XSS bug is similar to a flaw discovered in June that attackers used to snatch Gmail passwords

Adobe on Wednesday patched six vulnerabilities in Flash Player, including one it admitted is already being exploited by attackers.

That vulnerability, identified as CVE-2011-2444, shares some traits with an earlier Flash flaw that was used to target Gmail accounts in June.

[ Also on InfoWorld: In June, attackers exploited latest Flash bug on large scale, says researcher. | Get your websites up to speed with HTML5 today using the techniques in InfoWorld's HTML5 Deep Dive PDF how-to report. | Learn how to secure your Web browsers in InfoWorld's "Web Browser Security Deep Dive" PDF guide. ]

Adobe labeled CVE-2011-2444 as a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability, a class of bugs often used by identity thieves to steal usernames and passwords from vulnerable browsers. In this case, browsers were not directly targeted; rather, attackers exploited the ubiquitous Flash Player browser plug-in.

Like the June Flash bug, CVE-2011-2444 was reported to Adobe by Google's security team.

Adobe also used almost identical phrasing to describe both CVE-2011-2444 and the June vulnerability in its security advisories.

"There are reports that this vulnerability is being exploited in the wild in active targeted attacks designed to trick the user into clicking on a malicious link delivered in an email message," said Adobe in Wednesday's advisory as well as the one it published in June. "This universal cross-site scripting issue could be used to take actions on a user's behalf on any website or webmail provider, if the user visits a malicious website."

Adobe declined to comment on how the CVE-2011-2444 vulnerability was being exploited and instead referred questions to Google. The latter did not immediately reply to an emailed query.

Four of the five other Flash bugs that Adobe patched today could be exploited by attackers to run their malicious code on victimized computers, Adobe said in its advisory.

Wednesday's Flash update was the first since Adobe patched 13 bugs on Aug. 9. Adobe has fixed Flash eight times so far this year, including several emergency, or "out-of-band," updates rushed to users because attacks were under way.

The patched versions of Flash Player for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris can be downloaded from Adobe's website. Alternately, users can run Flash's update tool or wait for the software to prompt them that a new version is available.

Android users must browse to the Android Market to update Flash.

Google silently updated its Chrome browser on Tuesday to include the patched version of Flash Player. Google has been including Flash with Chrome since April 2010, and remains the only browser maker to bundle the plug-in with its own releases.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Adobe patches Flash bug hackers are already exploiting" was originally published by Computerworld .

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