We all see the reminders to update Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java frequently. There is good reason not to put this task off: The trusted researchers at AV-TEST Institute found that 66 percent of affected Windows systems are victims of malware that took advantage of exploits found in Reader, Flash, and Java.
During the 10-year study, they found that Adobe Reader has nearly 37,000 recorded variants that exploit user machines with “high levels of precision.” Java gets the top spot for exploit attacks with a whopping 82,000 attack variations available against the multiple versions of software on 3 billion devices worldwide.
Can I just stop using Java or Flash?
Does avast! Antivirus provide protection?
When analysing malware you are most likely to encounter samples which use all kinds of obfuscation in order to hide from antivirus software that protects your computer. This is also true for malware written in flash (more specifically, ActionScript). Flash is very popular among malware writers these days because many people use it on daily basis. Sometimes, they don’t even know it’s flash that runs all the fancy stuff which takes place on their screen! Recently I came across a sample that uses a very nice trick to hide its purpose from everyone who tries to look under its hood. What is more interesting, this sample is actually smaller than 140 bytes, which means it could fit in a Twitter message! That is rather unusual for flash files, which tend to be considerably larger. But don’t worry, this is not a case of malware spreading through Twitter in its binary form. Maybe via malicious links, but that is another story.