It has been a long time coming, but Facebook has finally taken the decision to stop using Flash for video. The social media site is now using HTML5 for all videos served on the site. Facebook Flash video is no more, but Adobe Flash has not been totally abandoned yet, as it will still be used for Facebook games. Hackers can take some comfort from the fact that Farmville players will still be highly susceptible to attack.
Facebook Flash Video Retired to Improve User Experience
The move away from Facebook Flash video didn’t really require any explaining, although a statement released by Facebook said the move was required “to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs.” The move to HTML5 not only makes the social media site more secure, HTML5 improves the user experience. Videos play faster, there are fewer bugs, and HTML allows faster development. The social media network also plans to improve the user experience for the visually impaired using HTML5.
The move appears to have been welcomed by Facebook users. Since changing over to HTML5, users have added more videos, registered more likes, and are spending more time viewing videos.
The End of Adobe Flash is Nigh
Unfortunately, it is not quite so easy for the Internet to be totally rid of Flash. The video platform has been used for so long it is still a major part of the web. However, its 10-year reign is now coming to an end. Google Chrome stopped supporting Flash last year and Amazon also banned the use of Flash for video last year. YouTube made the switch from Adobe Flash to HTML5 and with without Facebook’s 8 billion video views a day no longer being served through Flash, the majority of web videos will now be viewed without Adobe’s platform.
Even Adobe appears to be trying to distance itself from its toxic product, having abandoned the name Flash in recent weeks. The company is attempting to deal with the huge number of zero day vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered, and is patching them quickly, but it is fighting a losing battle. HTML5 provides everything that Flash offers in terms of functionality, minus the myriad of security holes.
Security Risk from Adobe Flash too High
Flash is well known for being a hackers dream as the software platform contains more holes than a sieve. Early last month a new patch was released to address 78 CVE-classified security vulnerabilities, 75 of which were totally separate. This, it has to be said, is an insane amount of security vulnerabilities to discover and address in a single patch. Adobe was quick to point out that it has not received reports of those vulnerabilities being used in the wild, but this has done little to address security fears about Flash.
The risk of drive-by malware attacks is simply too high with Flash. All it takes is for one malicious Flash based advert to be sneaked onto a site, and any visitor with a Flash browser plugin enabled could be automatically infected.
Even with the 78 vulnerabilities now addressed, Adobe Flash is far from secure. In fact, even the early December mega patch was not enough. Adobe was forced to issue yet another update on December 28 to address a number of new critical security vulnerabilities that had been uncovered. The total number of Flash security vulnerabilities addressed in 2015 is now estimated to be 316.
With YouTube ditching Flash and Facebook Flash video no more, the demise of Adobe Flash has surely been hastened.