Adobe issued a security update Tuesday that patched 29 vulnerabilities in its popular PDF viewing and editing applications, most of them bugs that attackers can use to grab control of personal computers.
The update, Adobe's second since it announced that it would patch Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat quarterly -- and on the same day that Microsoft delivers its monthly security updates -- fixed one flaw that hackers have already been using in the wild.
"These vulnerabilities could cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system," Adobe acknowledged in the advisory that accompanied the updates to versions 9.2, 8.1.7 and 7.1.4 of both Reader and Acrobat. "Updates apply to all platforms: Windows, Macintosh and UNIX," the advisory added.
Adobe tagged 13 of the 29 bugs with the phrase "could potentially lead to arbitrary code execution," security-speak for vulnerabilities that could be exploited to hijack a system. Like Apple, but unlike Microsoft, Oracle, and other large software vendors, Adobe does not apply a rating system to the flaws it fixes.
Four of the bugs may be exploitable, Adobe confirmed, saying that for the quartet, "arbitrary code execution has not been demonstrated, but may be possible." Many of the rest could be used to crash Reader or Acrobat, but were not likely to lead to a compromised computer.
Last week, Adobe confirmed that one of the vulnerabilities patched Tuesday was being exploited using rigged PDF files in "limited targeted attacks," and promised then that it would fix the flaw Tuesday.
The backdoor Trojan, dubbed "Protux" by Trend Micro, is no malware newcomer; it's been the payload for attacks that exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Office suite.
Also in the Adobe patch mix Tuesday were fixes for the Reader plug-ins used by Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Opera Software's Opera browsers. While the Firefox plug-in bug was considered critical, the one in the plug-in used by Chrome and Opera was less serious, although it could be used by identity thieves to hoodwink users into believing they were at a legitimate Web site when they actually had been shunted to a phony.