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Category:   Application (Generic)  >   Adobe Acrobat/Reader Vendors:   Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe Acrobat Reader Format String Flaw in Processing '.etd' Files Lets Remote Users Execute Arbitrary Code
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1012530
SecurityTracker URL:
CVE Reference:   CVE-2004-1153   (Links to External Site)
Date:  Dec 15 2004
Impact:   Execution of arbitrary code via network, User access via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  
Version(s): 6.0.2; possibly earlier versions
Description:   iDEFENSE reported a format string vulnerability in Adobe Acrobat Reader in the processing of eBook transactions. A remote user can cause arbitrary code to be executed on the target user's system.

It is reported that a remote user can create a '.etd' file (possibly included within a PDF file) with specially crafted 'title' or 'baseurl' fields that contain format string characters to trigger a memory access error and potentially cause arbitrary code to be executed.

Some demonstration exploit values are provided:


Greg MacManus of iDEFENSE Labs is credited with discovering this flaw.

The vendor was notified on October 13, 2004.

The original advisory is available at:

Impact:   A remote user can cause arbitrary code to be executed on the target user's system with the privileges of the target user.
Solution:   The vendor has issued a fixed version (6.0.3) of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

As a workaround, the report indicates that you can remove the following file:

"C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader\plug_ins\eBook.api"

Removing this file will not affect the reading of PDF files but will prevent Adobe Reader from handling eBooks.

Vendor URL: (Links to External Site)
Cause:   Input validation error, State error
Underlying OS:  UNIX (macOS/OS X), Windows (Any)

Message History:   None.

 Source Message Contents

Subject:  iDEFENSE Security Advisory 12.13.04: Adobe Reader 6.0 .ETD File

Adobe Reader 6.0 .ETD File Format String Vulnerability 

iDEFENSE Security Advisory 12.13.04
December 14, 2004


Adobe Acrobat Reader is a program for viewing Portable Document Format
(PDF) documents. More information is available at the following site:


Remote exploitation of a format string vulnerability in version 6.0.2 
of Adobe's Reader could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code.

The problem specifically exists in the parsing of .etd files used in 
eBook transactions. A .etd file containing a format string in the 
'title' or 'baseurl' fields can cause an invalid memory access:


This may allow for the execution of arbitrary code.


Successful exploitation allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code 
under the privileges of the local user. Remote exploitation is possible 
by sending a specially crafted e-mail and attaching either the 
maliciously crafted PDF document or a link to it.


iDEFENSE has confirmed that Adobe Reader version 6.0.2 is vulnerable. 
It is suspected that earlier versions of Adobe Reader 6 are also 
vulnerable. Adobe Acrobat may also be vulnerable.


Deleting the following file will prevent exploitation of this 

"C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader\plug_ins\eBook.api"

This will not impact reading .PDF files.

Removing this file prevents Adobe Reader from handling eBooks. When a 
file handled by this plugin is detected, an error dialog box will
appear, offering to take the user to Adobe's website for information.


This vulnerability is addressed in Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0.3. Downloads
for platform specific versions are available at the links shown below:






The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
names CAN-2004-1153 to these issues. This is a candidate for inclusion
in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


10/13/2004  Initial vendor notification
10/14/2004  Initial vendor response
12/14/2004  Coordinated public disclosure


This vulnerability was discovered by Greg MacManus, iDEFENSE Labs.

Get paid for vulnerability research


Copyright (c) 2004 iDEFENSE, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert
electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express
written consent of iDEFENSE. If you wish to reprint the whole or any
part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please
email for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate
at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use
of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition.
There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the
author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect,
or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on,
this information.

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