Firefox Blocks Flash

Published: July 15, 2015

Firefox Blocks Flash, Eric B├ęgin on FlickrAdobe’s released a fix for two critical Flash security flaws. Adobe has rushed to counter growing calls to “kill” its commonly used Flash Player, releasing fixes for a duo of bugs that led Mozilla to block it from running on Firefox.

Mozilla began automatically blocking the Adobe Flash Player, a web video and animation tool, from running in its Firefox web browser on Tuesday following concerns about Flash’s security.

About 16% of people use Firefox to browse the web, the world’s third-most popular browser. While cutting Flash out of Firefox was by no means lethal to Adobe, it looks more and more like the market is turning against Flash.

The move comes after Facebook’s chief security officer tweeted that he wished Adobe would kill Flash so that web sites don’t have to support it. And, famously, Apple founder Steve Jobs hated Flash and refused to let Apple’s software run it on iPhones and iPads. He railed against it in 2010.

The Mozilla Foundation, which offers numerous free email, web-browsing, and mobile services, said it chose to start blocking the use of Flash Player by default on Firefox fearing its poor security was leaving its customers unnecessarily vulnerable to hackers.

“Following Adobe’s advisory for two critical vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.204 [the latest version of Flash] and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, we have disabled Flash by default in Firefox to protect our users from active exploits which are distributing malware,” Mozilla director of product management Chad Weiner told Business Insider.

The vulnerabilities in question were uncovered after the high-profile Team Hacking leaks. The leaks occurred on July 6 when a group of hackers infiltrated the Italian surveillance firm Team Hacking, which creates and sells spy software.

The hackers published 400 gigabytes of allegedly stolen Team Hacking data online, including the source code of the firm’s spy tools and what software vulnerabilities it exploited.

The exploits targeted included the Adobe Flash flaws mentioned by Mozilla. The security flaws led to a backlash against Adobe after criminal groups were found to have begun using the Flash bugs in their cyberscams.

Mozilla’s Weiner said the block was never meant to be permanent and that the firm always planned to end it when Adobe fixed the software’s security.

A Mozilla representative declined to comment on whether the firm would ever consider permanently blocking Flash Player, telling Business Insider the firm had “nothing to add for the moment.”

The backlash against Adobe’s Flash has continued despite the availability of the security fix and Business Insider readers have continued to vocalise their hatred of the software.

“Flash slows my computer to a crawl and probably introduced viruses as well,” commented one angry Business Insider reader.

“As an average user, I hate Flash… all the updating, adjustments in chrome, crashing, and trying to install f—-ing McAfee all the time,” added another.

One reader even went so far as to argue: “Flash is utter s**t, the fact that it still exists is a monument to inertia, self preservation, and politics in IT.”

Mozilla has previously been proactive and aggressive when dealing with insecure products, or technologies it, or its users, feels are invading its customers’ privacy.

Mozilla used a solution developed by Stanford lecturer Jonathan Mayer, a privacy advocate, to turn off third-party cookies in Firefox in May 2013.

Cookies are pieces of code websites drop into your browser when you visit websites. They are used by advertisers to target you with ads.

The European Parliament imposed laws, forcing websites dropping cookies to alert visitors they were doing it in 2012.

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