Secure IT Foundation

Secure Settings#4 – Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader

Posted on: December 18, 2009

If you are not aware, Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader (now just called Adobe Reader) software is prone to serious security risks. The software was originally just a way to standardise document exchange and printing with the PDF file format, but now has had additional functionality over the years. The biggest two risks are the JavaScript which lets code be stored in the PDF document to be run on your computer and the PDF also allows files to be stored within a PDF file so can bypass virus scanners. Turning off the JavaScript setting and not opening files embedded in PDF documents will help prevent viruses taking control of your computer with no effect on reading PDF documents.

You can do this by starting Adobe Reader, clicking on Edit then Preferences and making the following changes going through the many settings pages on by one:

  • Tick Enable Enhanced Security
  • Untick Opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications
  • Untick Multimedia operations for both trusted and other documents
  • Untick Adobe JavaScript
  • Untick Display PDF in browser
  • Untick Speculative downloading in the background

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