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Adobe Reader and Acrobat JP2K Invalid Indexing Vulnerability



Adobe Reader/Acrobat is a Portable Document Format Viewer (PDF). For more information, see the vendor's site found at the following link.


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

JPEG2000 (JP2K) is an image file format similar to JPEG. In addition to JPEG markers, JP2K files also provide "boxes" that define different image properties. JP2K is one of the image formats supported by Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

The vulnerability occurs when parsing a JPEG2000 file embedded inside of a PDF file. Several different JP2K record types are involved in the vulnerability. It is possible to increment a buffer index beyond the allocated data, and store pointers to file data at that location. This can result in the corruption of heap structures and application data, which leads to the execution of arbitrary code.


Exploitation of this vulnerability results in the execution of arbitrary code with the privileges of the user viewing the web page or opening the 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 webpage created by an attacker. 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.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in Adobe Reader and Acrobat versions 9.4 and 8.2.5. A full list of vulnerable Adobe products can be found in Adobe Security Bulletin APSB11-03.


Disabling the web view mode of Adobe Reader will prevent exploitation through the browser.


Adobe has addressed this issue with an update. Further details and patches can be found at the following URL.


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2011-0602 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


11/17/2010 Initial Vendor Notification
11/17/2010 Initial Vendor Reply
02/08/2011 Coordinated Public Disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Sean Larsson, iDefense Labs.

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Copyright © 2011 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.