Adobe Systems Inc. says its plans to issue a patch on Wednesday to fix a zero-day vulnerability in its Flash Player software that is reportedly being exploited in active attacks. The flaw was disclosed publicly over the weekend after hackers broke into and posted online hundreds of gigabytes of data from Hacking Team, a controversial Italian company that’s long been accused of helping repressive regimes spy on dissident groups.
In an advisory published today, Adobe said “a critical vulnerability (CVE-2015-5119) has been identified in Adobe Flash Player 18.104.22.168 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Successful exploitation could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”
Several reports on Twitter suggested the exploit could be used to bypass Google Chrome‘s protective “sandbox” technology, a security feature that forces the program to run in a heightened security mode designed to block attacks that target vulnerabilities in Flash. A spokesperson for Google confirmed that attackers could evade the Chrome sandbox by using the Flash exploit in tandem with another Windows vulnerability that appears to be unpatched at the moment. Google also says its already in the process of pushing the Flash fix out to Chrome users.
The Flash flaw was uncovered after Hacking Team’s proprietary information was posted online by hacktivists seeking to disprove the company’s claims that it does not work with repressive regimes (the leaked data suggests that Hacking Team has contracted to develop exploits for a variety of countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Sudan and Thailand). Included in the cache are several exploits for unpatched flaws, including apparently a Windows vulnerability.
According to new research from security firm Trend Micro, there is evidence that the Flash bug is being exploited in active attacks.
“A separate attack against one of these vulnerabilities shows that not sharing the discovery of vulnerabilities with the vendor or broader security community leaves everyone at risk,” wrote Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager at Trend. “This latest attack is yet another demonstration that Adobe is a prime target for exploit across commercial and consumer IT systems.”
There is no question that Adobe Flash Player is a major target of attackers. This Wednesday will mark the seventh time in as many months that Adobe has issued an emergency update to fix a zero-day flaw in Flash Player (the last one was on June 23).
Perhaps a more sane approach to incessantly patching Flash Player is to remove it altogether. Late last month, I blogged about my experience doing just that, and found I didn’t miss the program much at all. In any case, I’ll update this post once Adobe has issued an official fix.