Adobe patches 12 Flash bugs, 3 caused by Microsoft

Microsoft gave Adobe just over two weeks' notice of flaws in Visual Studio development code

Adobe on Thursday patched 12 vulnerabilities in Flash Player, including three it inherited from faulty Microsoft development code and one that hackers have been exploiting for at least a week.

In a security advisory published Thursday afternoon, Adobe briefly spelled out the dozen vulnerabilities, 10 that were pegged as potentially leading to hijacked systems or with hackers executing their own malware on a machine.

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The vulnerabilities affect the Windows, Mac and Linux versions of Flash Player. Still to patch: the Solaris edition.

Last week, Adobe had promised that it would patch Flash on July 30 after reports surfaced of attacks against both Flash and Adobe Reader, a popular PDF viewer. Hackers have been attacking users running Flash through drive-bys hosted on compromised Web sites, and targeting people running Reader via a bug in the Flash interpreter baked into that program.

Reader and Adobe Acrobat are slated for an update today.

Adobe also took care of three vulnerabilities within Flash that were the result of the company's developers using a buggy Microsoft code "library" when they built the program. On Wednesday, Adobe confirmed that it had used Microsoft's flawed development code -- specifically the Active Template Library (ATL), a code library included with Visual Studio -- to create both Flash Player and Shockwave Player. The latter was patched that same day.

On Tuesday, Microsoft acknowledged that ATL contained multiple vulnerabilities, at least one harking back to early 2008. Although Microsoft patched Visual Studio to eliminate the bugs in ATL, those updates do not fix software developed using the flawed library. Instead, vendors must use the patched Visual Studio to recompile their code, then distribute the new, secure software.

That's what Adobe did yesterday while working a tight schedule.

According to Brad Arkin, Adobe's director for product security and privacy, Microsoft notified his company of the ATL vulnerabilities on July 10, just over two weeks before Microsoft announced the flaws.

That timetable differed from what Microsoft hinted at Tuesday, when Mike Reavey, the director of the company's Security Response Center, said that his security team had been investigating the ATL flaws since early 2008, and had been coordinating with third-party vendors to examine their code for the past several months.

"[Microsoft] was moving very fast to pull resources together to help us do triage on our products," said Arkin, who added that Adobe spent considerable time and resources figuring out which of its products contained the buggy ATL code. With more than 200 products in its portfolio, Adobe was forced to prioritize, and so concentrated on its most widely-used software, such as Flash Player, Shockwave Player, Reader and Acrobat.

The first two included the ATL vulnerabilities, while the second pair did not.

"The hard part was determining what was vulnerable," said Arkin. "It's easy to rebuild a test version, but then we had to make sure [that] works and make sure we didn't break it."

Arkin refused to criticize Microsoft for the ATL bugs, and instead praised Adobe's partner for sharing information in the run-up to Thursday's patches. But he acknowledged Microsoft's flaws had been trouble. "A bug in code that gets replicated across multiple products compounds the work necessary to triage. It was a lot of work."

Adobe intended to patch the ATL vulnerabilities in a Windows-only update to Flash Aug. 11, but when Microsoft moved up its own release, Adobe followed suit. "We were trying to be very careful that we didn't publish or release information before they were ready," Arkin said.

Flash Player 9.0.246.0 and 10.0.32.18 for Windows, Mac and Linux can be downloaded from Adobe's Web site. Alternately, users can use Flash's built-in automatic update mechanism to grab the new versions.

This story, "Adobe patches 12 Flash bugs, 3 caused by Microsoft" was originally published by Computerworld.

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