Sunday, January 17, 2021

Insecure Features in PDFs

In 2019, we published attacks on PDF Signatures and PDF Encryption. During our research and studying the related work, we discovered a lot of blog posts, talks, and papers focusing on malicious PDFs causing some damage. However, there was no systematic analysis of all possible dangerous features supported by PDFs, but only isolated exploits and attack concepts.

We decided to fill this gap and systematize the possibilities to use legitimate PDF features and do bad stuff. We define four attack categories: Denial of Service, Information Disclosure, Data Manipulation, and Code Execution.

Our evaluation reveals 26 of 28 popular PDF processing applications are vulnerable to at least one attack. You can download all malicious PDFs here. You can also find more technical details in our NDSS'21 paper.

This is a joined work of Jens Müller, Dominik Noss, Christian Mainka, Vladislav Mladenov, and Jörg Schwenk.

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