Adobe Flash memory corruption vulnerability

ID VU:812969
Type cert
Reporter CERT
Modified 2012-03-28T00:00:00



Adobe Flash contains an memory corruption vulnerability that can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code.


Adobe Flash versions and earlier contain a vulnerability that can result in memory corruption, which can allow arbitrary code execution. Please see Adobe Security Bulletin APSB11-02 and Adobe Security Bulletin APSB11-03.

Note that separate instances of Flash are provided in a variety of Adobe products, including Adobe Reader and Acrobat. Updating Flash Player does not update the Flash runtime included in other products.


By convincing a user to view a specially crafted HTML document (e.g., a web page or an HTML email message or attachment), PDF file, Microsoft Office document, or any other document that supports embedded SWF content, an attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code. The vulnerability reportedly affects Flash Player and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris.


Apply an update

This issue is addressed in Adobe Security Bulletin APSB11-02. This bulletin describes Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris, which addresses this issue. Adobe Reader X 10.0.1, which contains Flash, and Google Chrome 9.0.597.94, which contains Flash, have also been released.

Disable Flash in your web browser

Disable Flash or selectively enable Flash content as described in Securing Your Web Browser.

Disable Flash and 3D & Multimedia support in Adobe Reader 9 and later

Flash and 3D & Multimedia support are implemented as plug-in libraries in Adobe Reader. Disabling Flash in Adobe Reader will only mitigate attacks that use an SWF embedded in a PDF file. Disabling 3D & Multimedia support does not directly address the vulnerability, but it does provide additional mitigation and results not in a crash but in a more user-friendly error message.

To disable Flash and 3D & Multimedia support in Adobe Reader 9 on Microsoft Windows, delete or rename these files:
"%ProgramFiles%\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\authplay.dll"
"%ProgramFiles%\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\rt3d.dll"

For Apple Mac OS X, delete or rename these files:
"/Applications/Adobe Reader 9/Adobe"
"/Applications/Adobe Reader 9/Adobe"
For GNU/Linux, delete or rename these files (locations may vary among distributions):

For versions of Adobe Reader newer than 9, please adjust the above file paths accordingly. File locations may be different for Adobe Acrobat or other Adobe products that include Flash and 3D & Multimedia support. Disabling these plug-ins will reduce functionality and will not protect against SWF files hosted on websites. Depending on the update schedule for products other than Flash Player, consider leaving Flash and 3D & Multimedia support disabled unless they are absolutely required.

Remove Flash

Adobe has provided a TechNote with utilities for uninstalling the Flash Player plug-in and ActiveX control on Windows and Mac OS X systems. Removing these components can mitigate the web browser attack vector for this vulnerability. Note that this will not remove the instances of Flash Player that are installed with Adobe Reader or other Adobe products.

Disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader and Acrobat

Disabling JavaScript can help mitigate some techniques that use Adobe Reader as an attack vector.

To disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader:

1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader. 
2. Open the `Edit` menu. 
3. Choose the `Preferences...` option. 
4. Choose the `JavaScript` section. 
5. Uncheck the `Enable Acrobat JavaScript` checkbox.

Disabling JavaScript will not resolve the vulnerabilities, it will only disable the vulnerable JavaScript component. When JavaScript is disabled, Adobe Reader and Acrobat prompt to re-enable JavaScript when opening a PDF that contains JavaScript.

Prevent Internet Explorer from automatically opening PDF documents

The installer for Adobe Reader and Acrobat configures Internet Explorer to automatically open PDF files without any user interaction. This behavior can be reverted to the safer option of prompting the user by importing the following as a .REG file:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


Disable the displaying of PDF documents in the web browser

Preventing PDF documents from opening inside a web browser reduces the attack surface. If this workaround is applied to updated versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, it may protect against future vulnerabilities.

To prevent PDF documents from automatically opening in a web browser with Adobe Reader:

1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader. 
2. Open the `Edit` menu. 
3. Choose the `Preferences...` option. 
4. Choose the `Internet` section. 
5. Uncheck the `Display PDF in browser` checkbox.

Enable DEP in Microsoft Windows

Consider enabling Data Execution Prevention (DEP) in supported versions of Windows. DEP should not be treated as a complete workaround, but it can mitigate the execution of attacker-supplied code in some cases. Microsoft has published detailed technical information about DEP in Security Research & Defense blog posts "Understanding DEP as a mitigation technology" part 1 and part 2. DEP should be used in conjunction with the application of patches or other mitigations described in this document.

Vendor Information

Vendor| Status| Date Notified| Date Updated
Adobe| | 31 Jan 2011| 10 Feb 2011
Google| | -| 10 Feb 2011
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics

Group | Score | Vector
Base | 9.0 | AV:N/AC:M/Au:N/C:C/I:C/A:P
Temporal | 7.0 | E:POC/RL:OF/RC:C
Environmental | 7.0 | CDP:ND/TD:ND/CR:ND/IR:ND/AR:ND


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This vulerability was reported by Will Dormann of the CERT/CC.

This document was written by Will Dormann.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: CVE-2011-0560 CVE-2011-0561
  • Date Public: 08 Feb 2011
  • Date First Published: 10 Feb 2011
  • Date Last Updated: 28 Mar 2012
  • Severity Metric: 12.76
  • Document Revision: 15