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Should I Take the Flash Update I’ve Been Offered?

Short answer: heck no.

Questoning Flash
(Image: askleo.com)
Adobe Flash player is dying dead and should be avoided. I'll explain why you should be cautious if you think you still want it.

No, you should not take the update.

Even if it promises otherwise, Adobe Flash is dead.

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TL;DR:

While once popular, Flash has fallen out of favor — and most importantly, out of support. Flash Player is no longer supported by Adobe, and is no longer available as a download. Anyone that offers a download of Adobe Flash Player is suspect and possibly malicious.

Flash no more

Adobe Flash, a technology that once was a critical component of many websites, has a long history of bugs and vulnerabilities. Even in its heyday, scammers leveraged Flash vulnerabilities as a primary way to distribute malware.

Bugs were fixed and vulnerabilities patched, but it seemed like a never-ending stream of opportunities for malware authors.

Flash was cool. Flash was powerful. Flash was dangerous.

Malicious Flash “updates”

Even if Adobe Flash had been perfect, it needed to be updated periodically — and that update mechanism could be faked.

Malicious or compromised websites would display a fake Adobe Flash update message, encouraging you to download and install the latest update.

Unfortunately, you were really downloading and installing malware.

Don’t do that.

In part because of that, many browsers — most notably Google Chrome — incorporated1 Flash into the browser itself, so no additional download was required.

These days, if you’re offered a Flash update of any kind, it’s almost certainly malicious . You don’t need it, because the websites you’re visiting are unlikely to require it — and if they still do, they’ve long since passed Flash’s end-of-life date.

If not Flash, then what?

The world has moved on to HTML version 5, or HTML5 for short. It was designed to include most of the features and functionality for which website owners previously used Flash.

One common example is video hosting. Early on, Adobe Flash was commonly used to play videos on many websites — including YouTube.

Now there many more powerful and robust alternatives,2 and HTML5 itself includes a simple mechanism to display a video.

All current browsers support HTML5. Most websites have migrated to HTML5 or something else to replace Adobe Flash.

Flash is dead and unnecessary.

If you think you need Flash

If you think you need Flash, I suggest you proceed with extreme caution. You probably don’t need it at all.

That being said, there are older websites that have failed to move beyond Flash. Now that Flash is gone, they won’t work.

My advice is to find a different website that solves your problem or allows you to play your game that doesn’t require Flash.

 

You probably don’t need Flash, but if you think you do, any of the workarounds you might consider could put you at even greater risk.Tweet this!

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Footnotes & References

1: Though they’re removing it now, as it’s still not secure and shouldn’t be necessary.

2: Typically used when something more than a basic player is desired, or when consistency across different browsers is important.

12 comments on “Should I Take the Flash Update I’ve Been Offered?”

  1. I have had an issue with Adobe Flash for some time.
    I would boot up my PC and be presented with a window basically saying “adobe flash has been updated, press yes to install”.
    The first time I pressed yes, the window thought about it for a while, then came back with “you are not connected to the internet”.
    Being mildly paranoid about such things (which has saved me from bad virus infections in the past) immediately started me thinking ‘how does it know there is an update if there is no connection to tell it?’ and ‘why tell me about an update in the past tense THEN try to download it?’
    Their communication skills seem sketchy at best, and missleading at worst – i’m not surprised they try piggy-backing other crap onto you as part of the update process.

    Reply
  2. The other items that you have to watch out for during installs is things like the Google or Ask tool bar turds which by default are ticked ON for installation. It always pays to read every screen during installations and not mindlessly click the NEXT button.

    Reply
  3. After experiencing problems with Flash interfering with other programs I follow a simple rule – I do not install Flash on my main PC, but instead I keep another “disposable” PC with Flash and any other dodgy software installed on it, so that I can use these products without risking the main PC. If the “disposable” PC crashes then its no big deal.

    Reply
  4. Leo, your summary at the beginning of the article seems a bit scary. I read that bit from the email and thought, “Oh, no! What have I done?”

    I had to read your article and the one you link to, to put my mind at ease. I don’t remember if I was offered anything else, but I know I wouldn’t have let it install.

    Ever since I downloaded your recommendation, CCleaner, I haven’t found the need for any other system tool.

    Reply
  5. Hi Leo

    You wrote that Adobe Flash was not needed and to avoid updates,
    but you didn’t mention anything about uninstalling it, so should we?

    Also, what about Adobe Reader and Adobe Air, are they safe to keep
    and do we need them?

    Many thanks Leo

    Allan

    Reply
  6. Chris,
    I need Flash to open and view my Employer’s Roster, Payroll, Time Card and Leave entitlements on Kronos.
    This is a large multi- national company so I cannot recommend them to stop using it.
    What do I use instead of Flash?

    Reply
    • YOU don’t use anything instead of flash. It’s something that the website implementor has to change. YOU would choose to use a different website that uses more current technology, if you can.

      Reply
  7. I just installed a Flash update a few minutes ago. Reason being I had a sudden urge to start using Firefox again, and it wouldn’t allow me to play the games on lumosity.com without Flash. I’ve been playing them okay on Chrome, but the process for enabling Flash was completely different. Now, do I uninstall and simply head back over to Chrome, or do I give Firefox a chance?

    Reply
    • If there’s any way to play those games and avoid using Flash, I’d do it. Flash was a vector for malware way back when the iPhone came out and Steve Jobs blocked iPhones and iPad from installing Flash. It’s only been getting worse since then.

      Reply

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