​Adobe tells web developers to quit Flash, hacker's favourite target

Adobe has finally called on web developers to move on from Flash, the quasi-default for animation and video on the web that has become a playground for hackers.

This week Adobe told web developers that it would “encourage content creators to build with new web standards” like HTML5 as it prepares for a 2016 release of Animate CC, a newly announced replacement to Flash Professional CC as Adobe's main web animation tool.

Adobe hasn’t called it quits on Flash just yet, but the announcement ushers in of the official process of sunsetting of Flash -- which is exactly what Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos called for after a leak from Italian surveillance-ware firm Hacking Team in July revealed two secretly-held Flash flaws.

The exposure of the Flash flaws triggered a blockade on Flash in all mainstream browsers Within days, attack kits that target the Flash Player browser plugin exploited the flaws. Google, Apple and Mozilla blocked Flash in their respective browsers until Adobe had released a patch.

Facebook was caught in the cross-hairs of the attempts to protect browser users. In an August filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission Facebook revealed it was concerned that a similar incident could significantly damage its gaming revenues, warning a repeat loss of Flash support in mainstream browsers would “disrupt our ability to provide social games to some or all of our users, our ability to generate Payments revenue would be harmed.”

With this background it's not so surprising that Facebook will play a key role during Adobe's transition from Flash.

“We are working together with Facebook to help ensure Flash gaming content on Facebook continues to run reliably and securely. As part of this cooperation, Facebook will report security information that helps Adobe improve the Flash Player,” said Adobe.

Facebook’s security partnership with Adobe follows Facebook in October kicking off hack notifications to its users if it detected they were targeted by nation-state hackers. The move from Facebook came within a day of Adobe patching yet another flaw in Flash, in this case being used by a Russian-hacking group thought to have links to the Kremlin.

Adobe said its Flash replacement, Animate CC, will be available in early 2016. which comes as it transitions to HTML5 for Adobe Primetime, the Flash platform used by HBO and other content providers. Adobe outlined this week that its TVSDK for HTML5 supports HTML5 digital rights management for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge, Chrome and Safari, as well as support unprotected streaming.

On numerous occasions over the past few years, Windows and Mac desktop users have been told to disable Flash because hackers had found and exploited a vulnerability before Adobe was able to plug the software.

Flash’s ubiquity, as a browser plugin, on desktops has made it a favourite target for so-called advanced persistent hackers that use exclusive exploits for Flash, as well as exploit kits like Angler and Neutrino that incorporate new and old exploits for Flash.

Adobe has worked with Google and Microsoft to ensure updates to the Flash Player plugin for Chrome and Internet Explorer are automatic, yet the Hacking Team leak earlier this year reignited calls for Adobe to call it a day with Flash.


Read more: National cybersecurity capability needs decades of “fresh thinking” on skills, private-sector partnerships: ACCS

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