Earlier this morning, Adobe announced a new version of its PDF editing software, Acrobat X. A quick look on the Adobe Reader Blog reveals that a new version of Adobe Reader is scheduled to follow next month, bringing with it enhanced security.
The post says Adobe Reader X will include a new "Protected Mode" feature that will hopefully help keep malware at bay. Adobe provides more details on its Secure Software Engineering Team Blog:
With Adobe Reader Protected Mode enabled (it will be by default), all operations required by Adobe Reader to display the PDF file to the user are run in a very restricted manner inside a confined environment, the “sandbox.” Should Adobe Reader need to perform an action that is not permitted in the sandboxed environment, such as writing to the user’s temporary folder or launching an attachment inside a PDF file using an external application (e.g. Microsoft Word), those requests are funneled through a “broker process,” which has a strict set of policies for what is allowed and disallowed to prevent access to dangerous functionality.
That functionality almost seems overdue, considering the sheer number of PDF-borne malware we've seen in recent years. In fact, ZDNet reported earlier this year that Adobe Reader has eclipsed Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as a target for attacks.