October 8, 2018 By Shane Schick 2 min read

A free browser plugin for creating, editing and viewing PDF files contains 18 security vulnerabilities that could expose users to remote code execution, researchers warned.

According Cisco Talos, the Foxit PDF Reader, which is often used in place of Adobe’s Acrobat application, was designed to securely open protected documents and notify users when new versions of a PDF have been created. The vulnerabilities are primarily found in the product’s JavaScript engine, which was designed to support interactive and dynamic documents, such as PDFs.

How Could the Security Vulnerabilities Be Exploited?

Closing a document can free up used objects embedded in the JavaScript code while the engine continues to operate. Threat actors can take advantage of this window of opportunity — dubbed a “free-after-use” condition — to execute arbitrary code to steal data or perform other malicious actions.

To execute the attack, the researchers noted that, in most cases, the cybercriminals would first need to fool a Foxit user into opening a malicious file. Once any of the 18 security vulnerabilities has been triggered, however, remote code execution attacks could allow attackers to run commands on the victim’s system.

The researchers did not report any instances of users being impacted by the flaws, but they noted that a patch is available that covers all 18 vulnerabilities.

Mitigating the Rush-to-Release Effect

The software market is competitive, and a recent IBM study argued that developers are not necessarily experts in security. As a result, applications are often rushed to release before they can be adequately protected from security vulnerabilities.

The report recommended a strategy that starts with evaluating how important an application is to a particular business or user, scoring the potential risks and then ensuring that the right tools are in place to test and fix any security vulnerabilities that are discovered. Security professionals should regularly review this strategy to gauge the organization’s preparedness for threats such as remote code execution before they happen.

Source: Cisco Talos

More from

Regulatory harmonization in OT-critical infrastructure faces hurdles

3 min read - In an effort to enhance cyber resilience across critical infrastructure, the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) has recently released a summary of feedback from its 2023 Cybersecurity Regulatory Harmonization Request for Information (RFI). The responses reveal major concerns from critical infrastructure industries related to operational technology (OT), such as energy, transport and manufacturing. Their worries include the current fragmented regulatory landscape and difficulty adapting to new cyber regulations. The frustration appears to be unanimous. Meanwhile, the magnitude of…

Generative AI security requires a solid framework

4 min read - How many companies intentionally refuse to use AI to get their work done faster and more efficiently? Probably none: the advantages of AI are too great to deny.The benefits AI models offer to organizations are undeniable, especially for optimizing critical operations and outputs. However, generative AI also comes with risk. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, 96% of executives say adopting generative AI makes a security breach likely in their organization within the next three years.CISA Director Jen…

Q&A with Valentina Palmiotti, aka chompie

4 min read - The Pwn2Own computer hacking contest has been around since 2007, and during that time, there has never been a female to score a full win — until now.This milestone was reached at Pwn2Own 2024 in Vancouver, where two women, Valentina Palmiotti and Emma Kirkpatrick, each secured full wins by exploiting kernel vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows 11. Prior to this year, only Amy Burnett and Alisa Esage had competed in the contest's 17-year history, with Esage achieving a partial win in…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today