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

More School Closings Coast-to-Coast Due to Ransomware

Instead of snow days, students now get cyber days off. Cyberattacks are affecting school districts of all sizes from coast-to-coast. Some schools even completely shut down due to the attacks. The federal government recently warned that K-12 schools face a growing threat from cyber groups. According to the FBI, school districts often have limited cybersecurity protections, which makes them even more vulnerable. The FBI also says it anticipates the number of threats to increase. In a recent warning, the nation’s…

The Role of Human Resources in Cybersecurity

The human resources (HR) department is an integral part of an organization. They work with all departments with a wider reach than even IT. As a highly visible department, HR can support and improve an organization’s security posture through employee training. Their access to employees at the start of employment is an opportunity to lay a foundation for a culture of risk awareness. HR departments do not typically include cybersecurity risk awareness training with new hire onboarding, but it’s something…

New Attack Targets Online Customer Service Channels

An unknown attacker group is targeting customer service agents at gambling and gaming companies with a new malware effort. Known as IceBreaker, the code is capable of stealing passwords and cookies, exfiltrating files, taking screenshots and running custom VBS scripts. While these are fairly standard functions, what sets IceBreaker apart is its infection vector. Malicious actors are leveraging the helpful nature of customer service agents to deliver their payload and drive the infection process. Here’s a look at how IceBreaker…

Operational Technology: The evolving threats that might shift regulatory policy

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you find your favorite audio content. Attacks on Operational Technology (OT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) grabbed the headlines more often in 2022 — a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparking a growing willingness on behalf of criminals to target the ICS of critical infrastructure. Conversations about what could happen if these kinds of systems were compromised were once relegated to “what ifs” and disaster movie scripts. But those days are…