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Adobe Flash: The Good, the Bad, and the Angry Birds
In the early 2000s, Flash was everywhere on the web: used on interactive websites for popular brands, adapted to stream early YouTube videos, and allowing office workers to kill time on game sites like Newgrounds. Times have changed: after the release of 400GB of Hacking Team’s internal documentation, several zero day exploits were revealed to be present in the current Flash platform. According to CNET, since the Hacking Team breach, “independent researchers have verified three previously unknown attacks using Adobe's streaming-video software for browsers.”
As a result of the security bugs, Mozilla Firefox blocked the Flash Player Plugin from its browser to protect users and Alex Stamos, Facebook’s head of security, announced on Twitter: “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” and received numerous positive retweets.
Despite the revelations of numerous security bugs, no patches have been released by Adobe as of this time. The Hacking Team organization themselves have provided a general warning that, as a result of their hack, “sufficient code was released to permit anyone to deploy the software against any target of their choice,” and recommending diligent cyber security practices.
Back in 2010, Steve Jobs wrote,
"The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content…that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games. New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future…”
Whether Adobe decides to discontinue the Flash brand or patch the current security issues and continue development, the legacy of Flash will be mixed — the creators of Angry Birds were likely to be inspired by early Flash-based physics games, Bejewelled was originally a Flash game and the popular Facebook game Farmville is still running on Flash. Adobe’s runtime environment Adobe AIR, which incorporates Flash, continues to win awards. Do you think Adobe will discontinue Flash?