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Category:   Application (Generic)  >   Adobe Acrobat/Reader Vendors:   Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe Acrobat Reader Buffer Overflow in Parsing XML Forms Lets Remote Users Execute Arbitrary Code
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1009312
SecurityTracker URL:
CVE Reference:   CVE-2004-0194   (Links to External Site)
Updated:  Mar 11 2004
Original Entry Date:  Mar 4 2004
Impact:   Execution of arbitrary code via network, User access via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  
Version(s): 5.1
Description:   A buffer overflow vulnerability was reported in Adobe Acrobat Reader in the processing of XML Forms. A remote user can execute arbitrary code on a target user's system.

NGSSoftware reported that a remote user can create a specially crafted XML Forms Data Format (XFDF) file that, when loaded by a target user, will trigger a stack overflow and execute arbitrary code. XFDF files typically have a file extension of '.xfdf' and a MIME type of 'application/vnd.adobe.xfdf'.

It is reported that the XFDF parser makes an unsafe sprintf() call in the OutputDebugString() function (regardless of whether debugging is performed or not).

The original advisory is available at:

The vendor was reportedly notified on February 7, 2004.

Impact:   A remote user can cause arbitrary code to be executed when a target user opens a specially crafted file.
Solution:   The report indicates that, according to the vendor, the current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (6.0) is not vulnerable.

Upgrades are available at:

Vendor URL: (Links to External Site)
Cause:   Boundary error
Underlying OS:  Linux (Any), UNIX (Any), Windows (Any)

Message History:   None.

 Source Message Contents

Subject:  [Full-Disclosure] Adobe Acrobat Reader XML Forms Data Format Buffer Overflow

NGSSoftware Insight Security Research Advisory

Name: Adobe Acrobat Reader XML Forms Data Format Buffer Overflow
Systems Affected: Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5.1
Severity: High Risk
Vendor URL:
Author: David Litchfield [ ]
Date Vendor Notified:    7th February 2004
Date of Public Advisory: 3rd March 2004
Advisory number: #NISR03022004
Advisory URL:

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a viewer that renders PDF documents. The Reader
can be extended using the XML Forms Data Format or XFDF. XFDF is a format
for representing forms data and annotations in a PDF document. XFDF files
have a .xfdf extention and are rendered automatically on download when
using applications such as Internet Explorer. Also note that, regardless
of the file extention if the MIME type is set to
"application/vnd.adobe.xfdf" the file will be treated as a XFDF. When
parsing an XFDF document the Adobe Reader suffers from a classic stack
based buffer overflow vulnerability.

When the xfdf file is parsed an unsafe call to sprintf is made in
preparation for outputting a debug message using OutputDebugString.
Whether the process is being debugged or not the vulnerable code is still
called. Rendering the file will trigger the overflow. A user would need to
be enticed to a web site that hosted a malicious xfdf file or sent one via

Fix Information
On contacting Adobe, they confirmed that the current version is no longer
vulnerable and NGSSoftware urgently advises users of Adobe Reader to

About NGSSoftware
NGSSoftware design, research and develop intelligent, advanced application
security assessment scanners. Based in the United Kingdom, NGSSoftware
have offices in the South of London and the East Coast of Scotland.
NGSSoftware's sister company NGSConsulting, offers best of breed security
consulting services, specialising in application, host and network
security assessments.

Telephone +44 208 401 0070
Fax +44 208 401 0076

Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.


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