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Flash in the Past, But Vigilance Still a Key

Carl Weinschenk

Adobe announced that it will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020, saying that open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured and obviated the need for the plug-in.

Adobe pointed to this as the reason that it is gradually being retired. It is no longer needed and the tasks it performs can be done more efficiently with other tools:

Over time, we’ve seen helper apps evolve to become plugins, and more recently, have seen many of these plugin capabilities get incorporated into open web standards. Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.

As with many significant technical announcements, a dramatic move is followed by a long pause before the change goes into effect and an even longer period before its effects will be felt. Adobe is working with partners such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla to make the transition to a post-Adobe world smooth.


Though the end is in sight for Flash, users still need to pay attention to its use today. WeLiveSecurity says that Flash is one of the favorite targets of hackers. The reasons are that it is widely distributed and therefore worth crackers’ time; it hides in plain sight and a good percentage of users fail to keep it updated; it has a long history of vulnerabilities that are included into easy-to-use exploit kits.

The piece, which detailed a security advisory on updates for the Flash players for the Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OSes, was posted before Adobe announced it was ending Flash’s life. This news, of course, doesn’t change the message at the end of the post by one iota: “[W]hen Adobe releases new security patches for Adobe Flash Player, it would be very sensible indeed for its users to sit up and take notice.”

It’s interesting that one of Blorge’s suggestions for keeping safe with Flash is not to keep it updated. That’s probably assumed. The site suggests only getting Flash from reputable sources; that being asked to pay for it is a sign that the source is illegitimate; to understand that it isn’t available for most mobile devices; to never click on pop-ups and to avoid “sketchy” websites that may install compromised versions.

Flash will soon be a thing of the past. That is no reason, however, to not be vigilant in protecting your computing devices today.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 


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