Adobe Reader 'spell.customDictionaryOpen()' JavaScript Function Remote Code Execution Vulnerability



Date Discovered

April 27, 2009


Adobe Reader is prone to a remote code-execution vulnerability. An attacker can exploit this issue to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running the application or crash the application, denying service to legitimate users. Reader 8.1.4 for Linux is vulnerable; other versions or platforms may also be affected. UPDATE (April 30, 2009): Further information from the reporter states that the issue does not affect Reader 9.1; only 8.1.4 is affected. UPDATE (May 1, 2009): The vendor indicates that fixes will be available by May 12, 2009. Please see the referenced advisory for more information. UPDATE (May 18, 2009): The vendor indicates that fixes for Adobe Reader 7 for Apple Mac OS X will be available by the end of June, 2009. Please see the updated advisory for more information.

Technologies Affected

  • Adobe Reader 7.0.0
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.1
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.2
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.3
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.4
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.5
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.6
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.7
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.8
  • Adobe Reader 7.0.9
  • Adobe Reader 7.1
  • Adobe Reader 7.1.1
  • Adobe Reader 8.0
  • Adobe Reader 8.1
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.1
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.2
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.2 Security Update 1
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.3
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.4
  • Adobe Reader 8.1.5
  • Adobe Reader 9.1
  • Avaya Interactive Response 3.0
  • Avaya Interactive Response 4.0
  • Gentoo Linux
  • Nortel Networks Self-Service MPS 1000
  • Nortel Networks Self-Service MPS 500
  • Nortel Networks Self-Service Peri Application
  • Nortel Networks Self-Service Speech Server
  • Redhat Desktop Extras 3
  • Redhat Desktop Extras 4
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux AS Extras 3
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux AS Extras 4
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux Desktop Supplementary 5 Client
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux ES Extras 3
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux ES Extras 4
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux Extras 3
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux Extras 4
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux Supplementary 5 Server
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux WS Extras 3
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux WS Extras 4
  • SuSE SUSE Linux Enterprise 10
  • SuSE SUSE Linux Enterprise 11
  • SuSE SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11
  • SuSE SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 DEBUGINFO
  • SuSE Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP2
  • SuSE openSUSE 10.3
  • SuSE openSUSE 11.0
  • SuSE openSUSE 11.1
  • Sun Solaris 10 Sparc


Run all software as a nonprivileged user with minimal access rights.
To reduce the impact of latent vulnerabilities, run the application with the minimal amount of privileges required for functionality.

Deploy network intrusion detection systems to monitor network traffic for malicious activity.
Deploy NIDS to monitor network traffic for signs of anomalous or suspicious activity including unexplained incoming and outgoing traffic. This may indicate exploit attempts or activity that results from successful exploits.

Do not accept or execute files from untrusted or unknown sources.
To reduce the likelihood of successful exploits, never handle files that originate from unfamiliar or untrusted sources.

Do not follow links provided by unknown or untrusted sources.
To reduce the likelihood of attacks, never visit sites of questionable integrity or follow links provided by unfamiliar or untrusted sources.

Implement multiple redundant layers of security.
Various memory-protection schemes (such as nonexecutable and randomly mapped memory segments) may hinder an attacker's ability to exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code.

Review and adjust according to policy any default configuration settings.
Disabling JavaScript in Acrobat reader may also help protect users from exploits that rely on JavaScript. For details, see:

The vendor has released an advisory and updates. Please see the references for details.




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