RIP Flash? Has Chrome signed Flash’s death warrant?

Security & Privacy

The first day of September may go down in internet security history — and not just because it’s the day when F-Secure Labs announced that its blog, which was the first antivirus industry blog ever, has moved to a new home.

It’s also the day that Google’s Chrome began blocking flash ads from immediately loading, with the goal of moving advertisers to develop their creative in HTML5.

Google is joining Amazon, whose complete rejection of Flash ads also begins on September 1.

“This is a very good move on Amazon’s part and hopefully other companies will follow suit sooner than later,” F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan wrote in August when Amazon made its announcement. “Flash-based ads are now an all-too-common security risk. Everybody will be better off without them.”

Last month, Adobe issued its 12th update in 2015 for the software addressing security and stability concerns. An estimated 90 percent of rich media ads are delivered through Flash.

Having the world’s largest online retailer reject your ad format is a significant nudge away from the plugin. But it would be difficult to overstate the impact of Chrome actively encouraging developers to drop Flash.

About 1 out of every 2 people, 51.74 percent, who access the internet through a desktop browser do it via Chrome, according to StatCounter. This makes it the world’s most popular web interface by far.

 

Most Popular Browser, Chrome, Statcounter statistics

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer has also recently called for the end of Flash and YouTube moved away from the format by default in January.

“Newer technologies are available and becoming more popular anyway, so it would really be worth the effort to just speed up the adoption of newer, more secure technologies, and stop using Flash completely,” F-Secure Senior Researcher Timo Hirvonen told our Business Insider blog.

So what’s keeping Flash alive? Massive adoption and advertisers.

“Everyone in every agency’s creative department grew up using Adobe’s creative suite, so agencies still have deep benches of people who specialize in this,”Media Kitchen managing partner Josh Engroff told Digiday. “Moving away from it means new training and calibration.”

And Flash does have some advantages over the format that seems fated to replace it.

“HTML5 ads may be more beautiful, and are perceived to be more secure, but the files can be a lot larger than Flash,” Business Insider‘s Laura O’Reilly wrote.

In markets, stability can breed instability and it seems that our familiarity and reliance on Flash has resulted in unnecessary insecurity for our data.

Has Flash hit its moment when its dominance rapidly evaporates? We can have hope.

“I sincerely hope this is the end of Flash,” Timo told us.

Cheers,

Sandra

[Image by Sean MacEntee | Flickr]

 

 

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