Adobe Patch Day: Reader, Flash, and Illustrator Security Patches

Severity: High


  • These vulnerabilities affect: Reader and Acrobat, Flash Player, and Illustrator (CS6)
  • How an attacker exploits them: Multiple vectors of attack, including enticing your users to open malicious files or visit specially crafted web sites
  • Impact: Various results; in the worst case, an attacker can gain complete control of your computer
  • What to do: Install the appropriate Adobe patches immediately, or let Adobe’s updater do it for you.


Today, Adobe released or updated three security bulletins that describe vulnerabilities in four of their popular software packages; Reader and Acrobat X, Flash Player, and Illustrator.

Adobe Patch Day, May 2014


A remote attacker could exploit the worst of these flaws to gain complete control of your computer. We summarize the Adobe security bulletins below:

  • APSB14-15: Multiple Reader and Acrobat Code Execution Vulnerabilities

Adobe Reader helps you view PDF documents, while Acrobat helps you create them. Since PDF documents are very popular, most users install Reader to handle them.

Adobe’s bulletin describes 11 vulnerabilities that affect Adobe Reader and Acrobat XI 11.0.06 and earlier, running on Windows and Macintosh.  Adobe only describes the flaws in minimal technical detail, but they do share that many of the flaws involve memory corruption issues that attackers could exploit to execute code. Most of these memory corruption flaws share the same scope and impact. If an attacker can entice one of your users into opening a specially crafted PDF file, he can exploit these issues to execute code on that user’s computer, inheriting the user’s privileges. If your users have root or system administrator privileges, the attacker gains complete control of their computer. If you use Reader, you should patch soon.

Adobe Priority Rating: 1 (Patch within 72 hours)

  • APSB14-14: Half a Dozen Flash Player (and Air) Vulnerabilities

Adobe Flash Player displays interactive, animated web content called Flash. Although Flash is optional, 99% of PC users download and install it to view multimedia web content. It runs on many operating systems, including mobile operating systems like Android. It is also built into certain browsers, like Google and Internet Explorer (IE) 11.

Adobe’s bulletin describes six flaws in Flash Player and earlier for all platforms. The vulnerabilities differ technically, and in scope and impact, but the worst could allow attackers to execute code on your users computers. Specifically, Flash Player suffers from a “use after free” vulnerability – a type of memory corruption flaw that attackers can leverage to execute arbitrary code. If an attacker can lure you to a web site, or get you to open documents containing specially crafted Flash content, he could exploit this flaw to execute code on your computer, with your privileges. If you have administrative or root privileges, the attacker could gain full control of your computer. Though not as severe as the use after free flaw, the remaining flaws are all security bypass issues that could also help attackers further elevate their privileges after an attack.

Adobe Priority Rating: 1 (Patch within 72 hours)

  • APSB14-011: Illustrator (CS6) Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

Illustrator is a very popular vector drawing program that ships with Adobe’s popular Creative Suite. It suffers from an unspecified buffer overflow vulnerability. Adobe doesn’t describe the flaw in technical detail, but we presume that it has something to do with handling specially crafted Illustrator files. If that’s the case, opening specially crafted files in Illustrator could allow attackers to execute code on your machine with your privileges. Attackers don’t often target Illustrator, so we don’t expect this vulnerability to get exploited much in the wild. Nonetheless, if you use Illustrator, you ought to patch it at your convenience.

Adobe Priority Rating: 3 (Patch at your discretion)

Solution Path:

Adobe has released updates for all their affected software. If you use any of the software below, we recommend you download and deploy the corresponding updates as soon as possible, or let Adobe’s automatic updater do it for you.

For All WatchGuard Users:

Attackers can exploit these flaws using diverse exploitation methods. Installing Adobe’s updates is your most secure course of action.


Adobe has released patches correcting these issues.


  • Adobe Reader/Acrobat Security Update APSB14-15
  • Adobe Flash Player Security Update APSB14-14
  • Adobe Illustrator Security Update APSB14-11

This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).