20th September 2007

Like your PDFs on the dangerous side?

Adobe PDFThe “Windows vs. Mac” debate rages on, with folks on both sides taking firm stances based on strong opinions. And now comes one more reason for Windows users to be wary – the ubiquitous PDF file – a document standard used every day by millions of people. According to this report by MacWorld, a White Hat hacker has found an exploit in the Adobe PDF file format that would allow a malicious attacker to take over your Windows computer.

Now before all you Windows users start blasting me, yes, I know that the Mac OS X operating system is not 100% hack-proof. But the argument still stands that with significantly more Windows users out there to exploit, few hackers waste their time trying to write attacks for Mac OS X. Can it happen? Sure it can. But generally speaking malicious coders are interesting in making money, which they can do by creating exploits that turn a computer into a “zombie” to do their bidding, then selling time on the multitude of zombies they’ve created to other malicious users. There aren’t enough exploitable Macs to be profitable for them.

So what should you do if you’re a Windows user? Although it’s always smart to make sure your browsers are up-to-date with patches installed, and be sure your Adobe Reader is up-to-date, this particular exploit effects all versions of Adobe Reader. So until Adobe release a fix (which should be quickly, since this is a very serious issue), don’t open documents from a source that you don’t know and trust. Which is just good common sense anyway.

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