By Gregg Keizer
April 3, 2008
Security researchers at Adobe Systems Inc. claimed that they knew of a
Flash bug before it was used to crack a Windows Vista laptop last week
in the "Pwn to Own" hacker challenge.
Late yesterday, Adobe also said it had fixed the flaw and would patch
the problem this month.
"After some internal investigation, we found that via our ongoing
response and security testing process, we were aware of the issue and
had fixed it for our security update coming in the next Flash Player
update later this month," said Erick Lee, the manager of Adobe's secure
software engineering team, in a post to the group's blog.
3Com Inc.'s TippingPoint unit, which ponied up the cash prizes awarded
for hacking a MacBook Air and the Vista-powered Fujitsu laptop, acquired
the vulnerabilities as part of the deal and reported them last week to
Apple Inc. and Adobe.
At the CanSecWest security conference last Friday, Shane Macaulay, a
consultant at Security Objectives, claimed a $5,000 prize by
compromising the Fujitsu Ltd. machine using an exploit of the Flash
vulnerability that Lee said had been known and fixed. According to
TippingPoint, Macaulay took several hours to work up an attack, his
difficulties caused by some of the defense-in-depth measures added by
Microsoft Corp. to Service Pack 1 of Vista.
Neither Macaulay nor TippingPoint have discussed the Flash bug in more
than general terms.
Lee downplayed the threat posed by the bug Macaulay used. "Adobe is not
aware of any active exploits in wild," he said. "The security
researchers have reported the information to us responsibly, giving the
Flash Player team time to investigate and deliver a patch."
That patch will be issued as part of a previously scheduled update to
Flash Player that is to intended to, among other things, fix a
longstanding problem posed by .swf files, the Adobe proprietary
Shockwave Flash format. The .swf bug, which was reported in December by
a Google Inc. researcher, has left thousands of Web sites vulnerable to
cross-site scripting attacks.
More than three weeks ago, Adobe alerted users that a Flash Player
update was coming. Although it said the patches would not affect end
users, it warned Web site designers and administrators that they would
need to make numerous changes to how they deliver Shockwave Flash
content or risk their sites "breaking" when the April update lands on
Adobe was not immediately available to answer questions about when it
first knew of the bug and why it had not released it earlier.
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