J003-Content-Just-say-no-to-Flash_SQMore and more software and hardware vendors and web purveyors are saying no to Adobe Flash either through their strategy or by disabling support, but if you hate the instability and insecurity of Flash, you can get rid of it yourself.

As a piece from ZDNet highlights, Flash really did serve us well, but perhaps it’s time to reconsider alternatives, for security’s sake. The piece continues with valuable advice on how to rid your systems of Flash forever, without losing any function – advice I finally took.

No matter which of my PCs I used, Flash continually crashed my browser (tab restore used to be my life-saviour). It was especially bad for Firefox and despite my efforts to solve the problem through updates and other fixes, the crashes kept happening.

Flash is vulnerable in part because it is so ubiquitous. Hackers love to attack software in large supply. Today, Flash is one of the leading applications in terms of the number of patches but unfortunately, it lacks an automatic update process similar to the disciplined Microsoft Patch Tuesday. Unlike Microsoft, Flash has these popup messages that prompt you to update and these tend to be delivered haphazardly and end up being ignored.

There are other ways to serve up Flash-style content such as media players or HTML 5. The trick is to either not install Flash, or deinstall it if you already have it. The more of us that do this, the more web sites will stop making Flash a requirement.

Mobile fans needn’t worry. Android hasn’t supported Flash for 3 years and Steve Jobs famously hated the plug-in so iPad and iPhone never used Flash – and as we know smarthpones work with video just fine!

Ditching Flash, at least for today, may mean giving up some video capability, but it is probably worth it in the long run.

My story

I have been frustrated for years by Flash. I took baby steps to fix it, mainly by keeping it up to date and deinstalling then reinstalling it but inspired by the ZDNet post, I finally took Flash off my Firefox browser (which was crashing constantly) and it hasn’t crashed since. I only occasionally run into a video that requires Flash and that’s because more and more websites are no longer requiring Flash.

Microsoft is part of this move. With Windows 8, 9 and now 10 it is pushing HTML 5 as a dynamic content standard. One advantage to this is that video or any other dynamic content runs the same on tablets, laptops and phones. In fact, HTML 5 was the driving force behind the Windows 8 interface.

Even Adobe has been moving towards HTML 5 and four years ago, it killed off the mobile version of Flash and began coding in support of HTML 5. But it was the vulnerabilities found in the data stolen from Hacking Team which made many move away from Flash. Amazon was one of the first major players rejecting Flash. In fact, Flash-based ads are persona non-grata on its network.

“Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains.” Amazon said in a statement last summer. “This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages. This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.”

If you really want to keep Flash, it is incumbent on you to make sure your system is regularly patched, your antivirus is running and that you take extra care not to download or click on anything which looks dodgy. Flash was great in the early days of the ‘Net, but it has now perhaps outstayed it’s welcome so it might be time to say goodbye. I, for one, don’t miss it.