Since Adobe Reader Could Be Problematic, It Might Be Time to Switch


This week, a possible vulnerability was found in Adobe Reader software. Adobe Systems has confirmed that it is looking into a flaw that was disclosed Monday on the SecurityFocus site. The vulnerability could allow an attacker to run arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running the application.


According to SecurityFocus, Adobe Reader 9.1 and 8.1.4 are affected. Both versions run on Windows, Linux and the Mac operating systems. Several months ago, Adobe Reader had several vulnerabilities that attackers had been exploiting for weeks before Adobe patched them. Hopefully, Adobe will respond quickly to fix this vulnerability.


When we think of PDF software, we naturally think of Adobe. Adobe Systems created the Portable Document Format (PDF) as a document exchange format. Adobe has "owned" the PDF space, and has built a suite on it, ever since it released the document format in 1993. However, with the many problems Adobe has had recently, mostly due to JavaScript issues, maybe it's time to look at a replacement? Adobe is not the only PDF game in town today. I personally stopped using the suite, unless absolutely necessary, about a year ago. It's not the security flaws that turned me off -- it has been the price. The security vulnerabilities are just an added reason to switch products. If you are considering a switch, I recommend the following two tools:


Foxit Reader 3.0 is a small PDF reader that is small and fast. It supports Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista and it supports the 1.7 PDF Standard. What I like about the product is that when you launch it, you don't get that annoying splash page. The tool comes with a nifty annotation tool that allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text, and make notes directly on a PDF document. You can save your markups and then print the document out. In addition, you can convert a PDF file into a plain text file. What I really like about this tool is -- it's free.


Software995 offers a suite of products. Some are free and some you have to pay for. I use their free version of PDF995 that allows me to write PDF files. There is an annoying sponsor page that pops up every time you run the product, but what do you want for free? In addition to the PDF writer, Software995 offers a free document conversion utility called OmniFormat, a free full-text search tool called SearchWithin, and a free zip utility called ZIP995. If you don't want to see the pop-up page, you can purchase a version for a very reasonable price.


I understand that switching products is a big deal, especially if you work in a large organization. However, if you are tired of the vulnerabilities in these products, and paying for them, I suggest that you look at the two products I listed.


What PDF tools are you using? Would you ever consider switching?