Vulnerability Note VU#666281

Adobe Reader and Acrobat JavaScript methods buffer overflow vulnerabilities

Original Release date: 11 Feb 2008 | Last revised: 09 May 2008


Adobe Reader and Acrobat contains multiple buffer overflow vulnerabilities. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to execute 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 multiple stack-based buffer overflows in JavaScript methods in Adobe Reader and Acrobat could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code as the current user.

    These issues exist due to insufficient input validation in several JavaScript methods. Inadequate checking is performed on the string length before it is copied into a fixed sized buffer on the stack. If an attacker supplies a long string, control structures on the stack may be modified, allowing the execution of arbitrary code.


By convincing a user to open a specially-crafted 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 mitigate this vulnerability. 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.
Ubuntu users and administrators can prevent Adobe Reader from automatically opening PDF files inside their web browser by removing the mozilla-acroread package.

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-2007-5659
  • Date Public: 09 Feb 2008
  • Date First Published: 11 Feb 2008
  • Date Last Updated: 09 May 2008
  • Severity Metric: 9.95
  • Document Revision: 35


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