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27 July 2017

Adobe Flash is getting the ax, and hackers will miss it

Lost, and hopefully soon forgotten.
Lost, and hopefully soon forgotten.

Image: Ambar Del Moral/mashable

It’s not everyday we bear witness to the death of greatness. And so, when it does happen, we should all stand up and take note. Now is such a time. 

We speak, of course, of Adobe Flash: The best malware vector the world has even seen.

Adobe announced on July 25 that it plans to kill off the frustrating software that has riddled browsers since 1996. While its end-of-life date isn’t until 2020, the announcement is still likely to hit one online constituency particularly hard: malware developers. 

“Flash is a favorite target of attackers and malware.”

You see, those wishing to trick us into downloading garbage adware (or worse) have long cherished Flash. Its constant need of updates and Swiss cheese approach to security represent a wonderland of opportunities for the bad guys to slide right into our computers. 

Anyone who has ever browsed the web knows this. You’ve seen the popups, the weird warnings, and the constant drumbeat emanating from every sketchy website that “Adobe Flash Player is out of date.”

You, the common internet user, just want to watch that video. Or play some game. Or whatever it is you do online. And so you click what is probably a fake update button — unleashing silent havoc on your computer in the process. 

It was an easy way into the systems of the less digitally savvy, and now it’s going away. While this is good news for you and I, it’s a tragic death knell for all those who make a living breaking their way into your digital life. 

But, and let’s be real here for a moment, it was a long time coming. As noted cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs put it well before the news of Flash’s 2020 date with the executioner:

“The smartest option is probably to ditch the program once and for all and significantly increase the security of your system in the process. An extremely powerful and buggy program that binds itself to the browser, Flash is a favorite target of attackers and malware.” 

And now that favorite target is going away, forever, to that big plugin garbage heap in the sky. 

So let us shed a tear for everyone desperately trying to get us to install some shitty adware. A second tear, should you allow yourself a prolonged moment of grief, is dedicated to all those gleefully taking of advantages of Flash’s vulnerabilities. 

Things are going to be harder for them now. 

Thankfully for the malware developers of the world, however, there will always be plenty of other ways to hijack your computer. Still, there’s no love quite like the first. 

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