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Adobe Reader and Acrobat XSLT node() and lang() Memory Corruption Vulnerability



Adobe Reader and Acrobat are portable document format (PDF) readers and processors. For more information, please visit the following pages:


Remote exploitation of a heap overflow vulnerability in Adobe Systems Inc.'s Acrobat and Reader could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

The vulnerability exists in Adobe Reader's Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) engine, which improperly parses an XSL file embedded within a PDF file. When the lang() function is called on a specific node-set, a memory corruption occurs. Content of the attacker-controlled XML data will then overwrite structures used by the application. This can result in the execution of arbitrary code.


Exploitation of this vulnerability results in the execution of arbitrary code with the privileges of the user viewing a Web page or opening a PDF file. Since PDF files can be embedded into Web pages and parsed without interaction by default, this vulnerability can be exploited as a typical browser vulnerability. To exploit this vulnerability, a targeted user must load a malicious Web page that an attacker created. An attacker typically accomplishes this via social engineering or injecting content into compromised, trusted sites. After the user visits the malicious Web page, no further user interaction is needed.


The following products are vulnerable:

  • Adobe Reader XI (11.0.0) for Windows and Macintosh
  • Adobe Reader X (10.1.4) and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh
  • Adobe Reader 9.5.2 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh
  • Adobe Reader 9.5.1 and earlier versions for Linux
  • Adobe Acrobat XI (11.0.0) for Windows and Macintosh
  • Adobe Acrobat X (10.1.4) and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh
  • Adobe Acrobat 9.5.2 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh


iDefense is unaware of any effective workarounds for this vulnerability.


Adobe has released a fix which addresses this issue. For more information, consult their advisory at the following URL:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2012-1530 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


06/27/2012 Initial Vendor Notification
06/27/2012 Initial Vendor Reply
01/08/2013 Coordinated Public Disclosure


This vulnerability was reported to iDefense by Nicolas Grégoire.

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Copyright © 2013 Verisign, Inc.

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Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.