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F-Secure calls for Microsoft to add PDF viewer

May 05, 2010

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This week antivirus vendor F-Secure's Sean Sullivan, a security advisor for the Finnish-based firm asked the question, "Why doesn't Windows include native PDF reader support?," on F-Secure's blog.

Sullivan calls for Microsoft to add a basic PDF viewer to Windows to help protect users from vulnerabilities in PDFs. The blog post starts with "Dear Microsoft" and goes on to note, "Your customers are tired of the exploits and the complications that so many of today's PDF readers include. We just want to read PDFs. We don't want to launch executables, to play video & audio, or to run JavaScript. A viewer that provides the basic functionality of the PDF/A standard is all we want."

In a phone interview with PCWorld Sullivan was quoted as saying, "I wish Adobe would create two different versions of Reader, one maybe 'Reader Lite' that's really just a viewer."

PDFs continue to come under attack as more malicious PDF files are pushed to unsuspecting users. The most recent reports show a marked increase of PDF-focused attacks from 2008 to 2009.

Security firm Symantec in its most recent Internet Security Threat Report, revealed that crimes exploiting vulnerabilities in PDF readers are on the rise, increasing from 11 percent to 49 percent of all malware attacks.

For now Adobe continues to release updates and fixes, the most recent being in mid-April of this year, and other PDF vendors also continue to focus on ways to counter the rise in PDF exploits.

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