At the beginning of this decade, Microsoft represented a cybercriminal's dream target: universally-used software, brimming with bugs ready to be exploited to hijack users' PCs.

But as the software giant has slowly cleaned up its security flaws, hackers are looking toward another vendor whose products are nearly as ubiquitous and whose bounty of vulnerabilities are just being discovered: Adobe.

According to Verisign's bug tracking division iDefense, 45 bugs in Adobe's Reader software were found by either cybersecurity researchers or malicious hackers this year and patched. In 2008, iDefense found 14 Reader bugs, double the number in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of bugs found in commonly-used Microsoft programs like Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office remained flat or dropped.

Just 30 bugs were exposed in Internet Explorer compared with the same number last year, and 41 bugs were found in all of Microsoft's Office programs like PowerPoint, Word and Excel, down from 44 in 2008.

When Forbes asked a group of cybersecurity researchers from security firms TippingPoint, iDefense and Qualys to name software programs with vulnerabilities most often used by hackers to victimize users' PCs this year, every one included Adobe Reader on their list.

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