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Adobe Reader Replaces Microsoft Word as Most Exploited Application

According to the data compiled by security firm F-Secure, widely used Reader application of Adobe has substituted Microsoft Word to become the most frequently targeted application by malware purveyors.

F-Secure disclosed that the amount of malware campaigns targeted at Adobe Reader continues to surge. Compared to 39% targeted files of Microsoft Word, Reader files were abused in nearly 49% of attacks. On the contrary, Word was abused by around 35% 0f attacks in 2008, while almost 29% of attacks targeted Acrobat.

The security firm also noticed growth in the amount of targeted attack files through its sample management system; the number of such files was 1968 in 2008, and next year, the number reached 2195. However the increase is not a significant one, considering the data of both the years, but a greater amount of attacks aiming Adobe was certainly observed, said experts.

Till date in 2010, the number of targeted attack files is 895, and if the current pace continues, the figure will reach more than double the last year's figure.

Experts explained the reason as to why Adobe faced more attacks than Windows. They said that Adobe Reader/Acrobat contained more number of vulnerabilities as compared to Microsoft Office applications.

Further, a sharp decline has also been experienced in other applications of Microsoft Office. Attacks targeting PowerPoint fell from around 17% in 2008 to less than 5% in 2009. Excel attacks dropped to less than 8% from nearly 17%.

Expressing their views on this shift in attacks, security experts highlighted that Microsoft products have been the most sought after attack vectors of cybercriminals because of their huge popularity. It is expected that Adobe software, particularly Acrobat Reader, will take the first position in 2010.

Emphasizing the growth in attacks on Reader, a latest malware campaign was recently released by cyber goons, exploiting the flaws fixed only a few weeks back; financial institutions being the prime target. In this attack campaign, a PDF file uses the name of the alleged group of 20 strongest economic powers. The file drops a backdoor when the victim clicks it with an unpatched Reader's version, linking their system to a tiantian.ninth.biz server.

Related article: Adobe Rates Acrobat Vulnerabilities “Critical”

» SPAMfighter News - 3/17/2010

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