Friday, January 27, 2017 by Don Wrightman
The most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC was released last week, but not without controversy. The PDF viewing tool seeks information about your browsing habits on the Google Chrome browser. Without your knowledge or consent, a Chrome browser extension is installed with the newest security patch, but the extension is spyware. Anyone using Adobe Acrobat Reader needs to know that the Chrome spyware is included. The spyware feature currently affects one of the three versions of the software in circulation.
Acrobat Reader made its way into the cloud in April of 2015. If you are not running a cloud version of the software, the Reader XI version is on track to lose support in October. Acrobat DC, the cloud version, is split into two separate branches. The continuous release track is the one which was affected by this month’s spyware release, and the classic release track dates back to 2015, without the spyware.
Adobe Acrobat Reader gets dozens of security patches on a monthly basis; 29 holes were plugged this month alone. The DC continuous release patch is the one that most users will install, bringing the Chrome spyware along for the ride on Windows platforms. The Chrome extension that is installed, without user consent, is called “Adobe Acrobat”. It has the ability to read and change all of your data on websites that you visit; it can manage your downloads and communicate with cooperating native applications.
The good news is that Google Chrome is sophisticated enough to detect that the new extension has been added to the browser, and prompts the user for permission prior to enabling the extension. The bad news, the default action selected when prompted is to enable the spyware extension. You must specifically click on the option to remove the extension from Chrome, otherwise it will be installed at the expense of your privacy. (RELATED: Find more privacy news at PrivacyWatchNews.com)
You will see a notification revealing that the new extension can easily turn web pages into PDF files, so they look and act just like the page you converted while keeping original links, layout, and formatting intact. The notification also promotes that you can quickly switch from viewing PDFs in Chrome to opening them in Acrobat on your desktop, and explore Adobe Document Services to convert and combine files in your browser.
The release enables sharing information with Adobe about how you use the application. That option is employed by default. Adobe notes that the information is anonymous and will help them improve their product in future releases. The setting can be changed at any time in the Options section for the Chrome extension.
Two independent reports are claiming that Adobe’s e-book software, named Digital Editions, logs every single document that readers add to their local library. Digital Editions tracks what happens with those files and sends reporting logs back to the Adobe. Those logs are sent over the internet, making it possible for others, in addition to Adobe, to track your reading habits.
The reason this is all being tracked is for copyright enforcement. Digital Editions helps publishers securely distribute and manage access to books. Libraries encourage the use of the software because it aids them in complying with the restrictions that publishers have imposed on electronic lending. But Adobe is tracking more than its users are aware of, including information about self-published and purchased books. Reports indicate that Adobe is scanning your entire collection, although borrowing one e-book from a library shouldn’t grant them those permissions. (RELATED: See cyber attack related news at CyberAttack.news)
Adobe doesn’t quite agree with those reports; however, they did have some disturbing information pertaining to the matter. According to Adobe, the software collects information about the book you are currently reading; it collects information on where you are when reading the e-book, how long you’ve been reading it, and how much of it you have already read.