Ages ago the dinosaurs roamed the earth. All evidence demonstrates that they met with an untimely end. Much in the same vein, I firmly believe that Adobe’s Flash has reached it’s own extinction level event. Time for this dinosaur to quietly slip into the tar pits and be relegated to the mists of time.
In the last few weeks we saw news come to light that the hapless Hacking Team had a few zero day exploits that they used to gain access to remote systems for themselves or their clients. I wasn’t vexed by this so much as I was befuddled that we still see Adobe Flash in heavy use across the vast expanses of the Internet.
Why is Flash still used? Well, because it is visually appealing. Much in the same way that a cat chases a red dot across the floor, we find ourselves drawn to the visual aesthetic of Flash. The problem being is that security is a huge problem for this particular product. A quick search on OSVDB shows over 500 security issues with Flash. I didn’t even take the time to break it down into high or critical buckets because I think on shear volume alone we see the results in stark detail.
So, what is to be done? Mozilla took the step of temporarily disabling Flash for users in their browsers when news broke of the zero days that were unearthed in the Hacking Team data breach. While I appreciate the sentiment this was a massive missed opportunity. They came so very close to making a stand and just pulled back as they teetered on the precipice. This would have been a welcome voice added to the fray in an attempt to put an end to Flash.
To be fair, if Flash didn’t have so many problems I would not be quite so opinionated about it. I remember when Apple first made it known that iOS devices would not support Flash. People said at the time that it was an ill formed decision. Now, with the benefit of hindsight we see that this was an important stand to make.
Web developers need to start leveraging new ways to gain the sticky factor to have visitors stay on their websites. Better content is always a novel idea. Relying on ‘flash’ and glitz for a website does little to maintain the interest of a website visitor for anything longer than a few initial seconds.
As for the average web surfer, I would suggest that they uninstall Flash from their systems altogether. More often than naught these installs are not up to current revisions. Sadly, this then exposes people to the potential for remote compromise. With Blackhat and DEF CON just days away we can rest assured that more on this subject will come to light.
As we move forward in the time continuum we need to shed the deprecated dinosaurs of the past lest we be pulled into the tar pit of security exposures. It is time for the Flash extinction level event.