Will Security Fears Finally Doom Adobe Flash?

Will Security Fears Finally Doom Adobe Flash?


Well, that escalated quickly.

A day after Facebook’s head of security suggested the Web would be better off without Adobe Flash, Mozilla executive Mark Schmidt announced that Firefox would block all versions of Flash by default.

“To be clear, Flash is only blocked until Adobe releases a version which isn’t being actively exploited by publicly known vulnerabilities,” Schmidt wrote in a July 14 tweet.

Adobe Flash isn’t going away anytime soon—a great many websites rely on it to power animations, forms, and other features. But the two-pronged attack from Facebook and Mozilla is sure to revive the long-running argument that the plugin is too error-riddled for its own good.

Over the past day, Schmidt and others have linked to an online letter published by Steve Jobs in April 2010. In that missive, titled “Thoughts on Flash,” the Apple co-founder complained that Flash “falls short” when it comes to low-power devices, touch interfaces, and open Web standards—the very things that define the modern Web experience for many people.

But the current criticisms of Flash focus almost exclusively on its security vulnerabilities, and Adobe’s perceived slowness in patching them. Given the comments by Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, it seems likely that the social network will eventually sub out Flash for HTML5, notably for video playback.

But will the rest of the Web follow suit? For those developers who specialize in Flash, the thought of thousands of websites suddenly deciding to dump the technology en masse is probably not a comforting one. Given Flash’s sizable presence, however, that doom date is likely a long time from now.

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