The increase of the PDF format’s popularity has simultaneously increased the demand for the free Adobe Reader by the famous Adobe software. The high demand of Adobe Reader program has triggered attention from hackers. The chief research officer of the famous Finnish security expert F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen, has highlighted in the recent RSA Conference 2009 in San Francisco that Adobe Reader has replaced Microsoft Word to become the popular target attack by hackers. Mikko Hypponen has recommended that users should consider using other alternative programs instead to read and view PDF files.

According to Mikko Hypponen, of the targeted attacks so far this year, more than 47 percent of them exploit holes in Acrobat Reader while six vulnerabilities have been discovered that target the program. This is a critical figure indicating serious security problem in this program. Mikko Hypponen also added that in 2008, the favored targeted attack vector was Microsoft Word, which had 15 known vulnerabilities (compared to Acrobat Reader’s 19) and which represented 34.5 percent of the attacks (compared to 28.6 percent for Acrobat Reader).

Adobe Reader is amongst the popular and favorite tools used by many users which include businessmen, politicians and also many high-ranking individuals. The vulnerable security of the program will cause substantial damages if it is not managed and overcome immediately. Hackers might make use of the vulnerabilities and access high ranking individuals’ systems to steal important documents or spy on their PCs.

Users are advised to update their Adobe Reader from time to time to make sure important security updates have been installed to their version. Hypponen did not recommend a PDF reader, but said Acrobat Reader alternatives are listed on the Web site. Readers can refer to our earlier post highlighting on some alternatives to Adobe Reader which they can also consider.