Vulnerability Note VU#140129

Adobe Reader EScript.api arbitrary code execution

Original Release date: 12 Feb 2008 | Last revised: 09 May 2008


The Adobe Acrobat Reader contains a vulnerability that may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.


Adobe Acrobat Reader is software designed to view Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Adobe also distributes the Adobe Acrobat Plug-In to allow users to view PDF files inside of a web browser.

Per iDefense Advisory 02.08.08:

    Remote exploitation of an insecure method exposed by the JavaScript library in Adobe Reader and Acrobat could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code as the current user.

    Adobe Reader and Acrobat implement a version of JavaScript in the EScript.api plug-in which is based on the reference implementation used in Mozilla products. One of the methods exposed allows direct control over low level features of the object, which in turn allows execution of arbitrary code.


By convincing a user to open a malicious PDF file, a remote, unauthenticated attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code. This can happen in several ways, such as opening an email attachment or viewing a web page.


According to the information in Adobe Security bulletin APSB08-13, users with version 8 of Adobe Reader or Acrobat should upgrade to version 8.1.2. Users running version 7 of Adobe Reader or Acrobat should upgrade to version 7.1.0. This issue was intially address for version 8 of Adobe Reader and Acrobat in Adobe Security advisory APSA08-01.

Disable the displaying of PDF documents in the web browser

Preventing PDF documents from opening inside a web browser may prevent this vulnerability from being automatically exploited. If this workaround is applied to updated versions of the Adobe reader, it may mitigate future vulnerabilities.

To prevent PDF documents from automatically being opened in a web browser:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. Open the Edit menu.
  3. Choose the preferences option.
  4. Choose the Internet section.
  5. Un-check the "Display PDF in browser" check box.
Prevent Internet Explorer from automatically opening PDF documents

The installer for Adobe Reader and Acrobat configures Internet Explorer to automatically open PDF files without any user interaction. This behavior can be reverted to the safer option of prompting the user by importing the following as a .REG file:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


Disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader and Acrobat

Disabling Javascript may prevent this vulnerability from being exploited. Acrobat JavaScript can be disabled in the General preferences dialog (Edit -> Preferences -> JavaScript and un-check Enable Acrobat JavaScript).

Do not open untrusted PDF files

Do not open unfamiliar or unexpected PDF attachments. Users can convert PDF documents to text by using the Adobe Online Conversion Tools site. See the Online Conversion Tools FAQ for information about this service. This workaround will not mitigate all attack vectors.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
AdobeAffected-09 May 2008
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

Group Score Vector
Base N/A N/A
Temporal N/A N/A
Environmental N/A N/A



Thanks to Adobe and iDefense for information that was used in this report.

This document was written by Ryan Giobbi.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: CVE-2007-5663
  • Date Public: 09 Feb 2008
  • Date First Published: 12 Feb 2008
  • Date Last Updated: 09 May 2008
  • Severity Metric: 12.60
  • Document Revision: 27


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