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Malicious PDF Leads to Discovery of Adobe Reader, Windows Zero-Days

Researchers at ESET recently came across a malicious PDF file set up to exploit two zero-day vulnerabilities affecting Adobe Reader and Microsoft Windows.

The malicious document leverages a privilege escalation flaw in Windows (CVE-2018-8120) and a remote code execution vulnerability in Adobe Reader (CVE-2018-4990). CVE-2018-8120 is one of the two zero-day vulnerabilities fixed by Microsoft with its May 2018 Patch Tuesday updates, while CVE-2018-4990 was addressed by Adobe on May 14 with the release of updates that fix nearly 50 other issues.

By combining the two flaws, attackers can execute arbitrary code with elevated privileges with minimal user interaction – specifically, opening the malicious PDF.

In order to make it more difficult for attackers to execute arbitrary code on a system running its Reader software, Adobe has implemented a sandbox. Exploiting only CVE-2018-4990 allows code execution within the sandbox, but combining it with the Windows privilege escalation...(continued)

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