It’s been a rough week for Adobe Flash. On Monday, July 13, 2015, the Firefox internet browser blocked Adobe Flash Player by default and Facebook’s chief security officer called upon Adobe to announce an end-of-life date for Flash. This all comes after finding out that Hacking Team, a spyware organization, was using Flash to remotely take over victims’ computers and infect them. Flash has been notoriously vulnerable over the years.
Firefox users will no longer be able to access Flash content and will have to manually re-enable Flash on the browser. Or they can choose to use another browser, like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, which still support Flash for now. It will be much like using smartphones, which don’t support Flash.
As of now, around 1 in 10 websites still use Flash (according to W3Techs), despite the fact that Google punishes sites that use Flash because of its lack of mobile usability. According to CNN Money, Flash is a type of “middleware” that allows for rich content to be viewed. It was used extensively 10 years ago to power games and animations. In 2005, all YouTube videos required a Flash plug-in to view.
In 2010, Steve Jobs called for the end of Flash, saying it was the number one reason that Macs crashed and lamenting its unbelievable lack of security. Over the years, Flash has been exploited over and over again, causing millions of systems to be infected with malware. It puts users at risk and tech giants like Facebook, Mozilla, and Apple aim to protect their users.
Facebook wants Flash to go away for good. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash,” tweeted Facebook security chief Alex Stamos on Sunday.
However, Mozilla stated that Flash could once again be enabled on Firefox as long as Adobe “releases a version which isn’t being actively exploited by publicly known vulnerabilities,” according to CNN.
If you are worried about a Flash vulnerability, Flash can be disabled on all browsers.
Chrome: Go to chrome://plugins, find the Flash player, and click disable.
Safari: Go to preferences > security > manage website settings, and then Adobe Flash Player. On the “when visiting other websites” dropdown menu, click block.
Firefox: Click the hamburger icon and then click add-ons. Go to the left hand column and find plugins. Under the dropdown menu, select “never activate.”
Internet Explorer: Click the gear icon in the upper right corner and then click internet options > programs > manage add-ons > Shockwave Flash Client. In the lower right, click disable.