In an era that touted PCs and mice, Flash (of Adobe persuasion) was a successful business, which supported Adobe’s goal of helping developers to write cross-platform. In current times though, where the deluge of low power devices, touch interfaces, and open web standards are abound, Flash simply falls short.
It’s not like as if computers and laptops aren’t becoming thinner, lighter, and reliant on power efficiency. Seeing as Flash is such a resource hoarder, its decline may have seen another stamp on it recently, with Google’s announcement on it stopping the sales of ad space for Flash-built ads as of June 30th, 2016. Google isn’t the only one delivering a death knell to Flash, with Apple reportedly blocking Flash by default across all websites, starting with the next version of its operating system.
While the eventual goal is to push more websites over to the much more reliable realm that is spelt HTML5 – Steve Jobs’s parting words (in 2010) made plenty clear about Flash being closed and proprietary, having major technical drawbacks, and the painful experience of having a ‘third-party layer of software’ come in between the platform and the developer.
It is curious to note though, that big names like HBO, NBC, CBS, Zynga, and Spotify all still have Flash-reliant websites, though they do have plans to move on.
In a recent patch issue by Adobe, it contained a whopping 36 security updates for its Flash Player browser plug-in, one of which was required for a critical zero-day vulnerability, which would have openly welcomed hackers to take full control of a victim’s computer.
“I think that, for Flash, it’s time to die. I went ‘flash free’ in 2016.. there are a few Facebook videos that I can’t see, and I can live with that.” – Phil Kernick, CTO of CQR Consulting.
The notoriously flawed technology though, while pushed aside for the safer HTML5, can still be used on a web page if it the need arises for it, simply by enabling it on a Mac for instance.
It is believed, in hushed conversations abound, that a new advanced persistent threat (APT) group called ‘ScarCruft’ is responsible for the recent attacks on Adobe Flash and has found victims in regions like China, India, Kuwait, and even Romania.
“Flash, in the context of advertising, has always held back performance because of its underlying security vulnerabilities and being easy to block. It’s also held back advertisers running successful campaigns on now common smart mobile devices. So the industry change to adopt pure HTML5 has unleashed a new wave of interruptive advertising possibilities, with mobile video ads becoming the next target.” – Kevin Marshall, Technical Manager, Ve Interactive.
Regardless of what happens in the cybersphere, Adobe’s strategy is still going to surround the making of money. While the relatively slow transition to HTML5 is going on, there has definitely been internal focus on supporting technologies like HTML5, and for a while now.
we all ought to keep vigil on the perils of getting hacked through Flash, which is as easily achievable as merely visiting a site which happens to run malicious Flash code. Even if the average person streams from legitimate sites, hackers can and are very capable of slipping a malicious Flash ad on them.
Always make sure your Flash player is up to date. If you feel that all the videos you’ll watch will only be on YouTube from here on out, you still need to inform it that you want to use HTML5, and not Flash, something that still isn’t automatic yet.
Like Brexit, the end of an era will still take time to finalise, so it is still prudent to be aware of security gaps and loopholes till then. Constant Vigilance!