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updated 4/22/2011 5:59:33 PM ET 2011-04-22T21:59:33

You might not be aware of it, but online criminals frequently exploit bugs in Adobe's PDF-viewing programs on your computer to launch crafty cyberattacks that give them access to your sensitive information.

Case in point: hackers have recently been embedding rigged Adobe Flash files inside legitimate Microsoft Word and Excel documents. When you open what you think is an ordinary Microsoft document, you also let in the corrupt — and hidden — Flash file that grants the criminals entry into your computer.

The Adobe Flash flaw first came to light last month, and was patched April 15.

But the same serious security bug was also found to exist in Adobe Reader and Acrobat. Adobe said it would address these problems during the week of April 25, but thankfully, they've sprung into action early.

Adobe Thursday issued security updates for Reader and Acrobat. Adobe Reader X 10.0.3 is the newest version; Acrobat has been updated to 10.0.3 as well.

Adobe programs are set up on most computers to update automatically, but to update to the newest Adobe versions yourself, Adobe recommends selecting "Software Updates" and then "Check for Updates" under your computer's "System Preferences" or "Help" tab.

Users can also visit Adobe.com for instructions on how to manually update the programs.

Adobe Flash, Reader and Acrobat are such highly prized targets because they are so widely used, and often come preinstalled on computers. Security experts advise users to frequently check for updates to all programs, and to never open unsolicited attachments or ones that seem suspicious.

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