[SOON] Google Chrome to Block Adobe Flash

Category: Security

A majority of the online industry would love to see Adobe Flash die once and for all, including yours truly. Google is driving another nail into Flash’s coffin in the near future; the Chrome browser will soon begin blocking Flash content by default on all but a few major websites. Here's what you need to know, and do...

What To Do When Google Chrome Blocks Flash

In my recent article Adobe Flash - The Last Straw? I encouraged AskBob readers to remove or disable the Adobe Flash player, because it's an open door for malware to attack your computer. Now, Google is promising to block the Flash player in their Chrome browser, sometime before the end of the year. https://goo.gl/pxi4Bt

For users, this means the rectangular windows where Flash content normally would appear will be filled by a grey box containing a jigsaw puzzle piece. “Plugin disabled” will indicate that Chrome is deliberately blocking content. However, you can still use Flash on any site, if you accept the risks involved.

Chrome will display a prompt asking if you want to run Flash on this particular site. Chrome will remember your answer and do the same on each visit to that site. So over the long haul, you will still be in control of Flash and your browser options.

Blocking Flash Player

There will be a few exceptions to the rule. Only ten sites on the entire Web will have Flash enabled by default. They are some of the best known brands, with good track records of maintaining the security of their servers. Amazon, Facebook, Live.com, Twitch.tv and Yahoo and YouTube are on the "whitelist" but they'll only have a one year exemption. The rest of the Web will be treated as “untrustworthy,” at least as far as Flash content goes.

The signal that Google is sending to users and Web designers is simple: “Flash has got to die!” Not a month goes by without Adobe announcing a new, never-seen-before flaw in Flash, one that can lead to compromised accounts. Another Flash zero-day exploit and its patch were just announced on May 14. Flash is a bottomless pit of software bugs, continually endangering the security of everyone online. It has got to go.

Choice and Risk

Google is making a stab at pleasing everyone with its forthcoming Flash policy. The sites that are exempt from the changes to Flash include large, trusted companies that probably have a heavy dependence on Flash for their site design, at the moment. So they get a pass for now; But Google has set a one-year deadline for ending its forbearance.

Last year, the Firefox browser temporarily blocked Flash, but no longer does so. If you use Firefox and have the Adobe Flash player plugin, my recommendation is still to uninstall or disable it. If you cannot or will not stop using Flash, at the very least you should use the "Ask to Activate" setting. My article Adobe Flash - The Last Straw? explains the risks in detail, and gives instructions for disabling Flash in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

I'll repeat the warning I gave last month: If you allow your browser to play Flash content by right-clicking on that grey box with the jigsaw puzzle piece, you're still taking a risk. There's no guarantee that Flash content will run safely, even on a trusted website.

Users can still have Flash if they really want it; the hoops through which they must jump are pretty easy, really. But hopefully, that tiny bit of work will prompt many users to forego Flash and send a message to site operators: “Get rid of Flash or your traffic will drop.”

Making the use of Flash a conscious choice for the user, requiring at least one small action, is a good start on killing Flash. People tend to stick with default settings that require the least exercise from them. Hopefully, sites that use Flash unnecessarily will soon see drops in traffic directly attributable to visitors’ inability or unwillingness to interact with Flash. When that message sinks in, you’ll soon see Flash content replaced by HTML5 embedded videos.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[SOON] Google Chrome to Block Adobe Flash"

(See all 31 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

Well, BBC **still** doesn't play, though it DID and a couple of FireFox addons to (ah-hem) "Make it play safer" and (paraphrase) 'not pick up any bad guys on the web', yeah right. So, until I get BBC to switch I'm pretty much stuck with it until they decide to switch. And this is about as likely to happen as for man to make weapons out of iron as rock - To move that old stodgy "Bush,, whooops they've moved", "Broadcast House" (Though 'Bush House' sound so much more primitive and cool) change first we need to find some iron first. Sometimes I HATE the BBC, since last time you wrote they've added a McAfee 'safe web' something and an Adobe something to make the web 'as safe as possible' (as safe as possible using outdated technology until they can't put off buying new licenses for new programs, sigh - that's the problem of left over World Colonial Empires, and perhaps when seen in the grad scheme of things, just a TINY few of the problems). SCREAM! I'd boycott them only there are men, women, and girls who rely upon them for the BBC for the Literal safety of their lives. THAT is hard to argue against. So they are the only ones allowed to play it. sigh.........

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

Sounds like Google wants more control over what is on the internet.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not sure why you'd say that. Neither Flash nor the newer tech (HTML5) have any connection to Google.

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

I can't help but sense that Google doesn't want us using a free product. I'm sure they will have a pay-for product real soon!

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

I tried Google Chrome, had a couple nice add-ons I liked. One day I started Chrome to a message the add-ons had been removed because they hadn't come from the Play Store. Well, the Play Store didn't have those add-ons, so I uninstalled Chrome.


Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

I got rid of Flash long ago. I have absolutely no problems using YouTube, etc. I do run into situations where I get a message to download Flash but ignore it. I sent "the big boss" of a local news site a suggestion that he use HTML5 instead. So far, I've had no response from him. His loss, not mine. I'd rather do without and have a tad more secure environment. I use both IE and Chrome. Flash won't ever be on this computer again as long as long as I have anything to say about it.

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

Flash is used in so many video sites it would be a great loss if terminated before a replacement is available.
With anti-virus and malware programs on my Windows 7 computer, I have never had an attack that was not blocked before any damage was incurred. Seems like a decision to kill Flash without an alternative player is a step backwards in technology and a hasty decision.

Posted by:

02 Jun 2016

I uninstalled Flash player some months back on advice of a techie friend. One day I reinstalled it just to view a card someone sent me but took it back off. I'm a Firefox/Win 7 user--don't notice many videos that won't play but I'm not into games (of any kind). I don't like Google for anything--I use DuckDuckGo -- much better search results. And I uninstalled Chrome that I used as a backup because it seemed to be installing junk on my computer. Thanks for all your good advice, Bob.

Posted by:

Keith A. Lindsey, MBA
02 Jun 2016

Please, for the love of God, don't use Internet Explorer anymore! There's a reason that M$ dropped it in Win 10...it's crap! Use Chrome, Chromium, Firefox or Opera instead.

As far as Adobe Flash Player, I agree with Bob. I would also add that those who watch videos over the web may require Flash to do so, I'd contact the companies like YouTube or FoxNews.com and tell them that as a consumer of their content, you want SAFE content which Flash is not and that they need to modernize their systems to comply with current security standards including using HTML5 for video/audio.

Posted by:

kay adams
02 Jun 2016

I guess I am not to smart. I read all your news letters and feel you have helped me a lot but I don't understand why some can watch videos and some can't. Please explain.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I never said some people can watch videos and others can't. I'm simply advising people to disable Flash in their browser, because it opens a door for malware to enter. If you have a site that requires Flash and you can't live without it, you have to accept the risk.

Posted by:

Chris Russell
02 Jun 2016

To Keith A Lindsay, Win 10 did not have IE, it sure does. I got rid of that Edge browser and got IE 11 working w/FF 46.0.1.

As to flash, I allow on single cases and have it remember on some too. The HTML5 videos are horrendous that one website offered me, looked like very early Youtube videos.

Posted by:

03 Jun 2016

The iPhone had just come out and we were both excited with the shiny new tech in our pocket and purse... until my wife discovered that many of our favorite sites were NOT viewable. She was more than ready to return hers, pronto!

At that time, a good alternative wasn't in place, so it was hard to do without. But along with many other longtime computer programmers and troubleshooters, I agreed with Apple's early refusal to support the problematic Flash player. It was the correct (but painful) choice. Even today, much improvement is needed and certainly overdue. R.I.P. Flash player. We knew you well, but your day has long-passed.

Posted by:

Elizabeth Perilloux
03 Jun 2016

What safe options are available for playing videos?

Posted by:

John B
03 Jun 2016

You are still avoiding all the requests to suggest a viable alternative for all the essential things which still require Flash. Windows itself, and the entire internet, is compromised daily. Should we kill Windows or the entire internet, then? Please propose a viable alternative before parroting overhasty actions.

EDITOR'S NOTE: From the user perspective, there is no alternative. If a website contains Flash content, you will need to decide if the risk is worth the reward. Websites that use Flash are becoming fewer, as more and more convert their content to HTML5.

Posted by:

03 Jun 2016

A lot of you people are missing the point, FLASH IS BUGGY AND SHOULDN'T BE USED. HTML5 is the way to go for web sites and it works with all browsers that I know of and you don't have to pay a thing for it, and Google has nothing to do with it as far as I know.

Posted by:

Sam Hagen
03 Jun 2016

I use Firefox and Chrome as back up and for some sites where Fox doesn't display correctly grocery shopping mostly it fast, I've got 64 bit Fox now and used it 32 bit and now 64 forever so not easy to wean off :)
Flash hasn't caused me angst ever. Need it for most places for videos. See no alternative.
I'm sticking with Window 7 too seems far too much of this "take away their choice" for my liking. We're adults not kids or is it simply Big Brother? Left is trying hard so go Mr Trump.

Posted by:

Jay R
03 Jun 2016

As I read thru these comments, my eyes are drawn to a gray bar at the top of the screen that asks, "Allow http://askbobranken.com to run "Adobe Flash"? I am quite sure that that message is from my browser. (FF now, but I have Chrome and am using both. Both seem to hog resources and are less than quick on occasion.) But if the message is from my browser, does it imply that Flash is used on this site with the TRASH FLASH message for the Bob Faithful?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't have any Flash videos hosted on my site. Perhaps one of the sponsor ads is using Flash. That's not something I can control, sorry. If you refresh the page, it will probably go away.

Posted by:

03 Jun 2016

We had someone make the mistake at work to remove/disable Flash after you last warning. Then we found out that Google Drive documents would no longer print, but only gave us a screen graphic and printout of the puzzle piece. And this was Google itself on Googles Chrome browser... We eventually saved our business (we depend on Google Drive for almost everything) by reinstalling Flash, resetting the browsers back to what they were before, and doing some odd tweaking where necessary (or at least our IT guy did). Odd that it seems that Google itself seems to depend on Flash for it's own stuff to work... Hope they come up with a working alternative.

PS right clicking on the puzzle pieces did NOTHING. A reinstall was apparently necessary.

Posted by:

Pat C.
07 Jun 2016

I have all my browsers set up where, if I need Flash to play a video (or whatever Flash needs to do)I get asked (Click If You Want Flash) and I use it - once. The next time I need to use Flash to do anything, I get asked, again. This might not be secure, but it's working for me.

Posted by:

Pat C.
07 Jun 2016

I've got to add I don't use Chrome much. Just for Gmail.

Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
09 Jun 2016

Bye Bye Flash! I'm glad Google is getting rid of it! It's nothing but trouble for me. I use Yahoo and Amazon, but will be happy when they stop using Flash.

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