Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to disable JavaScript within Acrobat Reader

By default, Adobe Acrobat Reader has JavaScript support enabled.  Disabling this feature can help against malicious PDF files. 

To disable scripting support, launch Adobe Acrobat Reader as normal.  Click on Edit – Preferences.

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Click on the JavaScript text within the left column and remove the checkmark to the left of “Enable Acrobat JavaScript”.

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Disabling scripting is not a cure-all for all potential security issues.  But it should protect you from the majority of the current PDF threats found on the Internet today.

Most of the time, JavaScript support is not needed to view “normal” PDF files.  But certain situations do require this option.  The latest Reader version allows editing of files depending on how the PDF was created.  I accessed the IRS’s web site to obtain some examples.  The form below did not have any problems with the security setting in place.

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But when I accessed another form, an error dialog box appeared.

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If you click on the Yes button above, this action enables JavaScript for this document as well as all future documents.  If the file in question requires this feature, you do not have a choice but to enable scripting.  But you do have the option of again disabling scripting support after processing the file in question.

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