I’m simultaneously amazed and not surprised that Adobe Flash is still as widely used as it is currently. I was just working with a client who uses a website for a very large financial services company where certain key features rely on Flash. And this site was just launched. I know of several other clients who regularly rely on training websites to ensure employee compliance that require Flash be enabled to view their webinars. It’s as if all the major technology companies haven’t been warning for years that Adobe Flash was a dead-end technology riddled with security flaws. Heck, Google started hammering nails in Flash’s coffin five years ago, and yet, here it is, still required throughout the corporate workplace.
“I’m not dead yet!”
Unlike the famous Monty Python scene, there’s nothing humorous about Adobe’s stated plans to discontinue support for the stand-alone Flash Player at the end of this year. Not only will it no longer be supported, Adobe has stated that it will just stop working at that point, and should be uninstalled. I can see some of you scratching your head, “Hang on, isn’t Flash built into my browser?” And therein lies maybe a small amount of grace for tardy developers who are hoping to eke out a few more miles from their Flash content. Chrome, Firefox and Edge all have Flash built into the browser, but make you manually unblock each website that still requires Flash to operate, and there are, as of today, no definite dates for when those browsers kick Flash to the curb for good. You can bet that it won’t be too much past Adobe’s deadline. If you are relying on a website that still uses Flash, you know who you are: the hoops you have to jump through to use a Flash website are essentially impossible to avoid. Make sure you contact your content provider to find out what plans they have, if any, to upgrade their websites when Adobe Flash finally shuffles off this mortal coil.
Image by 00luvicecream from Pixabay
If you thought you were the only one still using Windows XP, you are still in good company despite Microsoft’s widely publicized plan to end official support for the operating system in April of this year. NetMarketShare.com’s January 2014 report on installed desktop operating systems shows that an estimated 30% of the world’s computers are still using Windows XP, an operating system that is now approaching 13 years of age. NetMarketShare bases its statistics from metadata gathered by 40K websites around the world, so its also likely that this percentage may actually be slightly higher, as many XP machines are likely being used in legacy systems that do not require internet access to function.
In case you were wondering what that 30% equates to in actual numbers, there is an estimated 1.5 billion computers in use today. Based upon that number, it’s possible that several hundred million computers may continue to run an OS that will no longer get security updates from Microsoft, a number that has security analysts everywhere hyperventilating. Even though most anti-malware vendors will continue to provide support for XP, it will become increasingly difficult for them to remain effective on an OS for which Microsoft itself is abandoning.
What this means for you:
If you were thinking, “Well, this doesn’t impact me, I’m on Windows 7/8,” think again. Many cyberattacks are driven by zombified PC’s that have been gathered together into “Botnets” that can focus an incredible amount of processing power on anything they are rented to do, including sending out millions of phishing emails, spam and other nefarious activities. In the current state of desktop security, it’s commonly held wisdom that being targeted by a cyberattack is not a question of “if”, but of “when”. Cybercriminals rely on compromised resources to much of their dirty work, and their arsenal could become radically reinforced by the millions of computers still running XP, especially now that it will no longer be patched by Microsoft after April. If you are still operating PC’s with Windows XP, you should seriously consider upgrading those systems to a more modern OS if possible, and if an upgrade isn’t possible, replace them ASAP, as they will become an increasing liability for your organization.