Presidential primaries are never pretty – they are, after all, the proverbial “sausage factories” of American politics; wherein groups of sometimes civilized men sling intestinal materials at each other until the mess and overpowering stench becomes too much to bear (for both participant and observer) – but the 2012 GOP Presidential primary appears to be fast-tracking itself into one of the most intensively dislikable races in modern memory. Over the past few weeks we’ve witnessed a freakshow of delusional behavior coming from almost every GOP political camp save one (more on that later). From the usual factually challenged statements common to any political campaign (most, ironically, coming from a man calling himself an historian), we’ve witnessed the devolution of the grand old party into a collection of back-biting yard dogs, attacking not only each other with an increasing venom and hostility, but also the very populace they’re trying to win over to their side. The results, shall we say, are beginning to speak for themselves.
If you haven’t already heard yet, there’s another security vulnerability in the Adobe’s widely used portable document format (PDF). What’s different this time around is that the security hole affects not only a single vendor’s product (still looking at you, Adobe), but many alternate products that utilize the PDF specification itself. Take a look at the two links below to see how one newly discovered vulnerability has morphed into something far more dangerous:
Initial Report: http://blog.didierstevens.com/2010/03/29/escape-from-pdf/
For those disinclined to wade through the technical discussion, they essentially state that it is now possible for an attacker to modify a PDF file, any PDF file, in such a way as to embed executable code that will run upon opening a document. User’s receiving and opening such a file a user will still be presented with a prompt requesting permission to launch the code, something an intelligent and informed user should recognize as an immediate red flag, but, as the examples in the above links illustrate, an attacker can modify part of the language of the prompt to be something as apparently benign as “Click OK to view this PDF”. As most uninformed users will blow past such prompts without so much as a second’s pause to consider the actual content, the probability of a successful exploit is high. If such a user allows the code to execute, it can do pretty much whatever an attacker wishes it to do: Erase files, launch malware installers, or, as the second link explains, infect every other PDF on the system by applying an incremental update that allows new executable code to be injected into previously saved, and previously clean, PDF files. It’s the “I Love You” virus all over again.