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Re: Millions of PDF invisibly embedded with your internal disk paths
From: "Inferno" <inferno () securethoughts com>
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 01:37:41 -0800

Hi Juha-Matti,

Thanks for contributing to this thread. I did play a lot with the pdf
queries and the simple query you mentioned gives many false positives (on
google's first page, it gives 3 false positives and on bing's search, it
completely fails). So, I would still advise to use "filetype:pdf file c (htm
OR html OR mhtml)" (without quotes) which works well for both google and

Your suggestion to expand the query for further reconnaissance sounds very
interesting. Like "winnt" dir is good to identify w2k/nt4 systems, "users"
dir for vista/win7 and "documents and settings" for winxp, etc. E.g. query
"filetype:pdf file c documents and settings (htm OR html OR mhtml)" without


-----Original Message-----
From: full-disclosure-bounces () lists grok org uk
[mailto:full-disclosure-bounces () lists grok org uk] On Behalf Of Juha-Matti
Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 2:27 PM
To: Inferno; full-disclosure () lists grok org uk
Subject: Re: [Full-disclosure] Millions of PDF invisibly embedded with your
internal disk paths

The local path is being disclosed with a simple query too without putting
.HTM/.MHT to the string:

Another issue is the disclosure of user names - you can simply find the
author's full name John Smith from the pdf document and see that his user
name is josmith
(C:\Documents and Settings\josmith\Desktop\Misc)

By simply checking some documents from the same domain you'll see that this
company's user names are in this format:
John Smith - josmith
Kate Allison - kaallis
James L. Parker - jalpark
(not real-life examples)

And a query filetype:pdf file c winnt tells that a company is using W2K or


Inferno [inferno () securethoughts com] kirjoitti: 
Millions of PDF invisibly embedded with your internal disk paths

I found an interesting privacy issue while analyzing PDF files. This bug
occurs when you are using Internet Explorer to print locally saved web
as PDF and affects all IE versions including IE8. It does not matter which
PDF generation software you are using like Adobe Acrobat Professional,
CutePDF, PrimoPDF, etc as long as you are invoking it from inside the IE
print function. In Windows, even when your default browser is not IE and
you right click a file to select the PRINT from the context menu, then by
default it invokes the IE print handler. So, you will still see this issue
in the generated PDF.

This bug is NOT ABOUT the local disk path appearing in the FOOTER of your
pdf since it is clearly visible and already known by most people. This is
easy enough to hide by just going File -> Page Setup -> Change the Footer
value from “URL” to “-Empty-”. After doing that, you will not expect your
internal disk path being put anywhere else. However, that does not happen.

The privacy issue arises from the fact that your local disk path gets
invisibly embedded inside your PDF in the title attribute. Only when you
open the file in an Editor like Notepad, you will see it. Currently, there
is no option in IE to disable it. The only workaround is to manually
this value by editing the PDF file. Note that this problem does not occur
when using other browsers such as Firefox and Chrome. In fact, Chrome
handles the other footer issue intelligently as well by showing your disk
path as “…”, rather than exposing it.

Proof of Concept:

Steps to reproduce:
1. Pick a .HTM or .HTML or .MHT file on your local computer.
2. Open this file in IE and click Ctrl-P.
OR Right-click the file in explorer and select PRINT from context menu.
4. Select any PDF writer as Printer such as Adobe PDF / CutePDF / PrimoPDF
5. Click Print. When the PDF writer asks for a filename, provide any name.
6. Open the generated pdf in notepad, and search for “file://” without

Search for this on your favorite search engine (Google/Bing)
filetype:pdf file c (htm OR html OR mhtml)

Google Search 1 (for drive C)

R+mhtml%29&btnG=Search&aq=f&oq=&aqi=] – 4 million results
Google Search 2 (for drive D)

R+mhtml%29&btnG=Search&aq=f&oq=&aqi=] – 13 million results
and so on…. (I added till drive letter J and total was more than 50

So, out of 280 million pdfs accessible on the internet, more than 20% look
to be exposing internal disk paths which is a huge number. I have
the Microsoft and Adobe Security Teams about this issue. Microsoft has
to fix this in IE9, while Adobe has opened the case but hasn’t planned the
timelines yet.


01.<x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="Adobe XMP Core 4.0-c316
44.253921, Sun Oct 01 2006 17:14:39">
02.   <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#";>
03.      <rdf:Description rdf:about=""
04.            xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/";>
05.         <dc:format>application/pdf</dc:format>
06.         <dc:creator>
07.            <rdf:Seq>
08.               <rdf:li>LewtasS</rdf:li>
09.            </rdf:Seq>
10.         </dc:creator>
11.         <dc:title>
12.            <rdf:Alt>
13.               <rdf:li xml:lang="x-default">file://C:\Documents and
Settings\lewtass\Desktop\eda newsletter</rdf:li>
14.            </rdf:Alt>
15.         </dc:title>
16.      </rdf:Description>


01.<x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="3.1-701">
02.   <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#";>
03.      <rdf:Description rdf:about=""
04.            xmlns:pdf="http://ns.adobe.com/pdf/1.3/";>
05.         <pdf:Producer>Acrobat Distiller 7.0.5 (Windows)</pdf:Producer>
06.      </rdf:Description>
07.      <rdf:Description rdf:about=""
08.            xmlns:xap="http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/";>
09.         <xap:CreatorTool>PScript5.dll Version 5.2.2</xap:CreatorTool>
10.         <xap:ModifyDate>2009-03-18T15:07:10-07:00</xap:ModifyDate>
11.         <xap:CreateDate>2009-03-18T15:07:10-07:00</xap:CreateDate>
12.      </rdf:Description>
13.      <rdf:Description rdf:about=""
14.            xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/";>
15.         <dc:format>application/pdf</dc:format>
16.         <dc:title>
17.            <rdf:Alt>
18.               <rdf:li
xml:lang="x-default">mhtml:file://O:\fema\shsp_2009\draft ijs\fy 2009
investment jus</rdf:li>
19.            </rdf:Alt>

Thanks and Regards,
Security Researcher

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Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
Charter: http://lists.grok.org.uk/full-disclosure-charter.html
Hosted and sponsored by Secunia - http://secunia.com/

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