• Latest Adobe Reader security patch installs Chrome spyware

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    Adobe says the data collected by the new Adobe Product Improvement Program spyware is anonymous, thus innocuous. Sounds like Win10, eh? InfoWorld Wood
    [See the full post at: Latest Adobe Reader security patch installs Chrome spyware]

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    • #13180

      They plugged 29 security holes in the last month! The huge number of patches indicates that it’s pretty poorly-written software.

      I don’t use Chrome, so apparently I’m not affected by this one.

    • #13181

      I use Foxit, I gave up on Adobe BS & bloat years ago, malware, hacks, all of it gone, check out the free version, thanks……..M

    • #13182

      I rejected the Chrome Acrobat extension when it was offered to me earlier this week.

      Thanks Woody for putting some context on it. I didn’t know why I rejected it exactly, it just didn’t feel right.

    • #13183

      Good instincts.

      Your worst security hole is your clicking finger… 🙂

    • #13184

      Two big problems with Foxit:

      Malware writers started targeting it
      The installer has all sorts of junk

    • #13185

      Interesting… learned from the InfoWorld story that Adobe Reader XI will lose support after October 2017. Good news is that no spyware was installed with latest 11.0.19 patch, bad news is I have to find a replacement (FREE) PDF viewer later this year. More work for me! LOL

    • #13186

      I used Foxit for a while, but then it started getting bloated. I’ve switched to Sumatra PDF.

    • #13187

      does it affect Opera?

    • #13188

      Firefox comes with an integrated PDF viewer. I read 99%+ of my PDFs in Firefox.

    • #13189

      I don’t think so.

    • #13190

      Now I just use Chrome to open my PDF files. It has worked perfectly since a few months ago. (No Adobe nor Foxit anymore)

    • #13191

      Same here

    • #13192

      As I said everybody noticed that most money come from spying, which is easier than providing products and services and cheaper so they all want rent income and will stop at nothing to get it.

    • #13193

      Firefox PDF viewer may be fine for viewing, but it doesn’t handle “fill-in” PDF files (ie IRS forms, etc.) Noticed that Chrome PDF reader handles “fill-in” PDFs no problem. Would prefer a stand-alone PDF viewer though. Looks like it’s Chrome in a pinch.

    • #13194

      As a PDF viewer, I highly recommend SumatraPDF (https://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/free-pdf-reader.html). SumatraPDF is also a viewer for various other file types. With the exception of .chm files, as far as I know, SumatraPDF doesn’t process embedded scripts in files, so I believe SumatraPDF is a good choice with regards to security.

      I recommend these changes from SumatraPDF defaults: In Settings->Advanced Options, change ChmUI’s “UseFixedPageUI =” from false to true. Doing this avoids the use of Internet Explorer’s engine for .chm files, which results in avoiding embedded scripts in .chm files; reference: http://forums.fofou.org/sumatrapdf/topic?id=3185091. Also, I recommend changing EbookUI’s “UseFixedPageUI =” from false to true because in my opinion the user interface is better.

    • #13195

      Ditto. Foxit till it got to junk in installer, then Sumatra.

    • #13196

      Foxit used to be good. Then, at some point, they started stealing your pdf documents from your desktop, putting them in some “cloud” practically without warning or permission, under the guise of a “beta version of a cloud option”.

      There were howls of outrage on the Foxit forum. They slightly backed down after a while, but I ran away and never returned.

      Also : rotten new interface (at the time), with bad ribbon and tiny tiny tiny icons, poor customisation and erased by updates to boot. The malware issue is news to me, and encourages me to stay away.

      My alternative is the free products of Tracker Software (the PDF X-Change series). Alas, their product line is impossible to comprehend. Their website is chockfull of seemingly helpful product information, but hopelessly confused if you start looking into it. Beats the Adobe racket anytime, though.

    • #13197

      There’s always nitro, they do a free version which i use.

    • #13198

      Been using PDF X-Change viewer for years without any issues. Prior to that it was foxit reader which eventually turned into bloatware.

      Alternatively, for those who like installation malware and exploits, may I suggest Adobe reader and Adobe flash player.

    • #13199

      It also installs something on firefox too. I discovered this when I got an alert from Kaspersky KIS saying it “prevent Adobe from installing” something on Chrome and Firefox.

      Lots of things don’t do “fill in form PDF” very well, mostly because of the creation with Adobe.

    • #13200

      Interesting. Can you look at your Firefox add-ons and let me know if you see anything Adobe-related?

    • #13201


    • #13202

      I tried Nitro (free) sometime ago and found when I wanted to print something I had a big overprint stating something like it was a trial…….. can’t remember – it was ages ago….. so I stopped using that. One thing I did find very useful when I wanted to print a pdf file was Cute PDF Writer which is utilised when you go to print a document and which saves it as a pdf file for you. It’s also rather handy when viewing on line and you want to save a page or part of a page and instead of ‘saving as’ you can ‘print’ and then you have a pdf file saved. I find that quite good for instance with recipes instead of having the whole webpage or trying to just save the text for the recipe – the simple command print can achieve that quite quickly and effortlessly. Anyway each to his own. But I too did have something flash up at me on Iron last week about Adobe and I declined…… I wasn’t in the mood to spend time looking into it! LT

      Statistics are no substitute for judgment.
      – Henry Clay

    • #13203

      I been using Nitro free as well for a long time now, seems pretty reliable and no added crapware

    • #13204

      I gave up on Crapobat a lifetime ago. Now I use the free PDF-XChange Editor. Very nice app.

    • #13205

      Looks like 2 plugins: Adobe Acrobat for reading PDFs and “Primetime Content Decryption Module by Adobe systems”

    • #13206

      Woody, do you have a pdf reader you can recommend that I would install on client computers to replace Adobe Reader???

    • #13207


      The one I use is Chrome.

      PDF-XChange Editor is also very good, as is SumatraPDF and Nitro.

      Good overview here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-non-adobe-pdf-reader.htm

    • #13208

      Windows 10 doesn’t need a PDF reader to be installed. It’s one of the many security improvements over Windows 7.

    • #13209

      Literally true – Edge is a decent PDF reader (and you can always download the now-nearly-defunct Metro Reader). But if you want to fill out forms, you need something more. Chrome does it nicely.

    • #13210

      I save to PDF a lot of stuff from websites (news, blogs). I like Adobe Acrobat because it automatically shows you the saved PDF (you don’t have to look for it and open it yourself), and then you can delete the pages of irrelevant cruft at the end of the desired text. In addition I can go in and write in sticky notes as well as highlight important sections in yellow.

      On the other hand, my Acrobat X is getting long in the cybertooth 😉 and I’m in the market for a less expensive alternative. Not crazy about Adobe’s cloud push, either. Is there any other full-featured PDF software that will do the above things? My second choice was Foxit, but here at Woody’s it’s getting low scores for bloat.

    • #13211

      Woody – When you say you “use Chrome” what exactly do you mean? Chrome is my browser – what do I have to do so I can be rid of Adobe Reader and use Chrome for my PDF reader?

    • #13212

      Chrome can handle it all. If the PDF is on the internet, just navigate to it. If the PDF is on your computer, just start a new tab and drag the file onto Chrome.

      Very easy.

    • #13213


      PDF X-Change Viewer (free, legacy, may still be available) :

      > Opens pdf as soon as it is downloaded = Yes.
      > Highlight (in whatever colour you want) = Yes.
      > Write sticky notes = Yes (ugly graphics).
      > Delete pages at the end = No.

      PDF X-Change Editor (free, current) :

      I don’t use it, but I’m pretty sure it does all that, plus it might be able to delete pages at the end. Maybe you need the Editor Plus variant for that (is it free as well ? I’m not sure based on the site’s description).

      Otherwise, I’m pretty sure that one of the paid-for products of the PDF X-Change line can trim the end of your documents.

    • #13214

      Thank you clairvaux

    • #13215

      I have been using Foxit for a couple of years, (ever since PDF Creator became infected with the OpenCandy malwear) so the thought that some of my PDFs which may have contain confidential information could have been uploaded to the cloud without my consent is frightening. I don’t use anything cloud based and never will.

      I tried X-Change PDF (which I had not heard of before) following suggestions here, but the output has two big yellow wheels top left and right on the output. What use is a PDF with that plastered over it ?

      CutePFT seems to be infected with malware.

      Nitro only seems to offer a 14 day free trial and no standalone free PDF printer.

      So I am now at a loss as what to use as a PDF printer. Any suggestions.

    • #13216


      That’s because you used one of the Pro functions, then saved the document. This behaviour is openly stated by the publisher. It’s the only way they use to differentiate the free and paid-for versions of PDF X-Change Viewer and PDF X-Change Editor.

      In order to avoid this, you may :

      > Use the Pro functions to experiment, but take care not to save the document afterwards.

      > Take care not to use the Pro functions at all (normally, you will get a warning).

      > Go to the Preferences menu, and check the box Hide Restricted Pro functions in the Free Version, so you don’t risk to trip them by mistake (that’s the best option, I think, if you don’t want to pay). This option exists in PDF X-Change Viewer, which I use (Edit / Preferences / Registration). Hopefully, it also exists in PDF X-Change Editor.

      > Buy the Pro version.

      That’s one of the drawbacks of those two products (if you want them for free). It’s not a good way to draw the line between paid and free, since the user risks spoiling a document forever if he only makes a mistake once.

    • #13217

      @clive……..just wondering what and where such malware is on CutePDF ….. the programme I use is only for printing/saving a pdf file so you don’t see it….. it’s an option when you are choosing your printer to print something. As I said it can convert any file into a pdf. You don’t go on line…. it all happens on your computer. There is a CutePDF Editor but it’s separate and it’s an online option
      which I have never used. Could this be what you are referring to ?? I would really like to know as I would hate to think of any malware coming onto my computer. LT

      Mistakes are doorways to discovery.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #13218

      I do not like Chrome in any way shape or form.

      I use Waterfox

    • #13219

      You’re welcome, Canadian Tech.

    • #13220

      I haven’t used it in several months, but I believe PDFfill PDF Tools free version (https://www.pdfill.com/pdf_tools_free.html) allows you to do a lot of manipulation of PDF files. The interface is a little clunky but I’ve found it very useful on the occasions I have used it.

    • #13221

      Thanks Clairvaux, I’ll look into the PDF X-Change line of products. Even if it’s not free, it’s bound to cost less than Acrobat Standard.

    • #13222

      In addition to the Woody response, you can also configure it on your computer so that PDF files are always opened with Chrome.

    • #13223


    • #13224

      Hugo – Thanks for your response. Could you tell me how to go about configuring my computer so I can do this? I’m sorry that I’m unaware of the proper procedure to do this!

    • #13225


      I’m refering to the offline free CutePDT Writer.

      ESET reported the infection of Win32/Bundled/Toolbar.Ask.N as an unsafe application when I tried to install it.

      It seems some Antivirus software is blocking it and some not. I’m not taking chances.

    • #13226


      Thanks for your response.

      All I did was print a document as a PDF from PDF Xchange Lite !

      If that is regarded as a Pro function then I would have been at fault for not appreciating it.

      Following your comments I decided to review their website again to see where I had gone wrong. I used the feature comparision function and then having seen no indication that Printing to PDF was restricted, decided to download and have another go.

      Now this is where it gets strange. Yesterday I downloaded Xchange PDF Lite, but today I found myself downloading Xchange PDF Home Lite, and low and behold no watermark !

      I not adverse to paying for software if it meets my needs at a fair price. I don’t need all the bells whistles as I do not need all the PDF editing fuctionality, just print to PDF, view, merge and physically print. I have Firefox to view and PDF SAM for merging, so all I was short of was a printer. I did find a suitable package last year which was reasonally priced, but before I brought it I found out it limited how many times you could re-install it. As I often do software rebuilds that was not an option.

    • #13227
    • #13228

      Control Panel -> Default Programs -> Associate a file type or protocol with a program ->

      Look for “.pdf” -> Change Program [Button] and select Chrome (usually in “C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe”) for 64x or (“C:Program FilesGoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe”) for 32x

    • #13229

      PDF X-Change Lite is another beast, and another confusing element in the X-Change line. (Note that I refuse to be bound by Tracker Software’s incorrect way to spell their own “PDF-XChange” products.)

      It’s a standalone virtual printer driver to pdf, free for personal use. My ancient printer is devoid of a Windows 7 driver, so I “print” to pdf with it. PDF X-Change Lite can change any Windows application files into pdf files. It appears as a printer option in the application’s print menu.

      It’s also an optional appendage to PDF X-Change Viewer (separate download needed), and included with PDF X-Change Editor or Editor Plus. The name itself is confusing, since it’s not the same thing as PDF X-Change Viewer or PDF X-Change Editor, but “lite” : it cannot manage or even display pdf files.

      Even worse, there are three different names for what is, to the best of my understanding, the same product : PDF X-Change Lite, PDF X-Change Lite Free and PDF X-Change Lite Home.

      The reason you got the dreaded black and yellow dented wheels on your documents is probably because you downloaded PDF X-Change Lite instead of PDF X-Change Lite Free. Unless you use it in a commercial environment, there’s no reason to do that.

      Of course, when you download PDF X-Change Lite Free, you get a file named PDF X-Change Lite Home, because, hey, life would be less fun if we couldn’t confuse the customer a wee bit more.

      Prodded by questions over the PDF X-Change line, I finally installed the PDF X-Change Editor that lay dormant on my machine. I can confirm that it’s more powerful than its older sibling PDF X-Change Viewer, that the interface is better designed and that it’s similarly free.

      One obvious drawback is the ribbon interface, which reduces the visible height of the pdf document. On the other hand, it’s easier to use than the old menu/toolbar design of PDF X-Change Viewer. I haven’t found any option to flatten the ribbon into a menu.

      In both PDF X-Change Viewer and PDF X-Change Editor, pro functions, that can spoil your documents with watermarks if you don’t pay, are identified in the menus with a special icon : “PRO” for the former, a cart for the latter. If, having used one of them, you then proceed to save your document, you get a final warning of an impending watermark, leaving you the option to cancel.

      In both products, the Preferences menu gives you the opportunity to hide the pro functions from the menus. If you use the software correctly, you’re therefore protected very efficiently against the risk of permanently damaging an irreplaceable document. Download the product, explore the pro functions, take your time to decide whether you want to buy a licence (no time limit !), and, if not, hide them all.

      In PDF X-Change Editor, notable pro functions that would require a licence purchase (starting at $ 43.50) include saving a pdf as a Word document, inserting or deleting pages (but deleting empty pages is gratis), creating pdf fillable forms, adding headers and footers and digital signatures. Still, the array of free functions is impressive, and may be used in a business environment. The legacy PDF X-Change Viewer is still available for download.

    • #13230

      Long and well-focused comments are always welcome, anywhere, anytime.

    • #13231

      “Nitro only seems to offer a 14 day free trial and no standalone free PDF printer.”

      I believe that’s the pro version trial. There is a free version here for reading pdfs – https://www.gonitro.com/pdf-reader

      My advice is don’t enter you real name and email address, just make something up and it should allow you to download a small client which then retrieves the full software. I can’t seem to find the reader listed on their main page, it’s almost as if they don’t want to advertise it. Funny that…

    • #13232

      Or actually, just go straight here and download the version you need – https://www.gonitro.com/pdf-reader/download

    • #13233

      So if I already have the new Adobe Extension enabled and I decide to remove from Chrome in Extensions does it remove Adobe Reader from my computer or just the latest extension from Chrome? Can I then still view PDF files as before with Adobe or does this latest Adobe Extension replace what I had before?

    • #13234

      Just the latest extension for Chrome. If you have Reaer installed, it’s still there.

    • #13235

      So my pdf files will still open in Chrome with Reader but with older extension? Is that safe or does latest ext. have security updates? Hate this spyware stuff!

    • #13236

      Not sure I understand the question.

      Chrome has been able to open and edit PDF files for some time now.

      I’m sure there have been security holes in Chrome related to PDFs, but they haven’t been anywhere near as bad or as frequent as the security holes in Adobe Reader.

    • #13237

      That is exactly what I thought at first. Great! I will use Edge to replace Adobe plus I will get automatic security updates through Windows update.

      Nice, but when you realize later maybe using Edge doesn’t conform to your privacy expectations, this nice alternative isn’t ncesseraily viable anymore, just as I liked so much the idea of Edge, but I won’t use it as my browser for the same reason.

      For me, I love the idea that Firefox handles all my pdfs by default, with limited functionalities I don’t need and limited security issues because it is simpler and automatically updated. Then, if I really need a form to fill from a reliable source, I will use Sumatra pdf reader. The fact that Firefox opens every pdf itself by default I find a good thing from a security standpoint. Then, the fallback on Sumatra for the rare occasion you need more is nice. That is how I have my users set up and it has been fine for a long time. Maybe if you need some DRM enabled pdfs it might not work with Sumatra, I’m not sure.

      As for the defunct Metro Reader, I had the same initial positive reaction, but it is really not good in terms of UI and I don’t see it supported at all in the future since the default reader will now be edge. I don’t see any reason Microsoft would support the awful Metro Reader.

    • #13238


      “I recommend these changes from SumatraPDF defaults: ”

      Thanks for the tip. Just installed SumatraPDF. “both now ‘true'”

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #13239


      My FF 50.1.0 has;

      “Primetime Content Decryption Module by Adobe systems”
      Google Widevine CDM

      FF explains;

      “Firefox downloads and enables the Google Widevine and Adobe Primetime CDMs by default to give users a smooth experience on sites that require DRM. The CDM runs in a separate container called a sandbox and you will be notified when a CDM is in use. You can also disable a CDM and opt out of future updates by following the steps below. Once you disable a CDM, however, sites using this type of DRM may not operate properly. “

    • #13240

      I’m sorry Woody. I’m just a novice here. I have always used Acrobat Reader to open pdf files in Chrome browser. If I remove recent Adobe extension will I still be able to open pdf files through Reader or do I need to find alternative?

    • #13241

      Just open ’em in Chrome. Either navigate to the PDF if it’s on a web page, or drag the file onto a running copy of Chrome. You can also set the default action for double-clicking on a PDF, using the technique described earlier.

      It’s surprisingly easy.

    • #13242

      Edit [PDF X-Change Editor] : you can flatten the ribbon to grab a little more display height for your documents. Just drag it up with the mouse.

      At this stage, I would say that PDF X-Change Editor is better, on the whole, than its predecessor PDF X-Change Viewer, but that there are still a few details in which the latter has the lead.

    • #13243

      I’d like to completely remove Adobe Acrobat Reader DC from my Win7 x64 PC and burn it with fire.

      Is this possible to accomplish without a reformat?

      I found this on Adobe’s site: http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/acrobatcleaner.html

      Can it be trusted to do what I want? Or are there more/other steps I need to take?

      Thanks much as always, M.

    • #13244

      Yeah, from what I hear the Cleaner works fine.

      You might augment it with one of the Uninstallers, like Revo


    • #13245

      If I do not use Chrome, is there any risk to this update? I’m thinking about getting rid Of Reader DC — thanks for the advice on that — but in the meantime, I’d like to patch any other security holes.
      Thanks for any help.

    • #13246

      Nope. The spyware only affects Chrome. Go ahead and install the more secure version, but figure out a way to move off Reader ASAP.

    • #13247


    • #13248

      Completely agree.

      When Foxit ditched the menu bar I switched to SumatraPDF as well.

      To avoid security problems: ALWAYS run ‘view-only’ programs like PDF viewers, media players, etc. Auto-Sandboxed using e.g. Sandboxie!

    • #13249

      I never could understand Sandboxie (and I’m well aware of all the praise it receives). That atrocious, non-standard interface, with stupid, yellowish shapes lurking in the background… This must have been programmed by some kid in mom’s basement in 1980, and never changed since.

      Also, I never understood the logic : how do you erase unwanted sessions, how do you save what you need to keep… It’s anything but obvious.

      [It’s ironic to see Adobe Acrobat ads on the right-side panel… as if !.]

    • #13250

      Well as an avid user of Sandboxie ‘Pro’ I could comment to that:

      It’s all controlled from the system tray

      You erase/terminate a session by deleting the sandbox it runs in. That sandbox is ‘regenerated’ the next time you start a program in it.

      When you erase a sandbox the program asks you which files you want to transfer to the ‘real’ system if you configured it that way.

      [ I get what you mean about the interface. Those shapes (representing ‘sandboxes’) always make me think of slices of cheese (hihi). I have no problem with it because I kinda like ‘retro’ stuff. :)]

    • #13251

      Thanks Martin. Maybe some day I will try Sandboxie again. Speaking of which, there’s another way to do untoward things safely, and that’s a virtual machine. Anybody knows if there’s a way to use one without paying for an extra copy of Windows ?

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