For Flash, the writing may finally be on the wall.
Mozilla has blocked Flash on its popular Firefox browser. A message now appears saying that Flash – the plug-in that enables animation, browser games, and other graphics online – is vulnerable, along with a message that Mozilla reserves the right to block software that “seriously compromises Firefox security.”
The ban is temporary – it will stay in place as long as there’s a version of Flash with publicly known security problems, Mozilla said. (Adobe is working on a fix.) If users really want to run Flash to view videos or use other Flash-based Web tools, they can do so – as long as they read a security warning from Mozilla first. But Mozilla is also advocating for a general end to using Flash as a Web standard.
That comes on the heels of another prominent call to bury Flash once and for all. Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, said on Twitter that he wants Adobe to set a deadline to kill Flash once and for all, so that developers will move quickly off the old standard.
Why all the Flash hate? A recent rash of vulnerabilities in Flash – including some exploited by Hacking Team – has drawn new criticism of the Adobe software, which for years has been used across the Web in videos, interactive graphics, advertisements. But online security experts have raised alarms for years about Flash, because hackers often exploit problems within the nearly ubiquitous software to gain control of others’ computers.
One of the most prominent Flash-haters, of course, was Steve Jobs. The Apple co-founder wrote an impassioned, extended critique of the technology way back in April of 2010. In that essay, Jobs said – among other things – that Flash was insecure, inefficient and not going to come anywhere near his mobile devices.
Since then, support for Flash has steadily eroded. The world’s top internet companies have taken steps to move on from the older standard, particularly as mobile devices have gained popularity, and extended support for other formats such as HTML5. Google, for example, moved off of the Flash standard for YouTube earlier this year. Adobe itself announced it would stop developing Flash for mobile devices in 2011