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Mozilla blocks Flash as Facebook security chief calls for its death

Mozilla blocks Flash as Facebook security chief calls for its death


It's temporary, but we hope it's permanent

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After yesterday's news that Facebook's new chief security officer wants to set a date to kill Flash once and for all, the latest version Mozilla's Firefox browser now blocks Adobe's vulnerability-riddled software as standard. Mark Schmidt, the head of the Firefox support team at Mozilla, tweeted that all versions of Flash Player are blocked in the browser as of its latest update, accompanying the news with an image showing a raised fist and the phrase "Occupy Flash."

Schmidt later clarified that while the software was blocked in the latest version of Firefox, Mozilla will enable support for Flash as default for its browser when Adobe releases a version that isn't being actively exploited by known vulnerabilities. The company has previously blocked Flash, Java, and a range of other plugins and software when they were found to have security holes. Schmidt also noted that Firefox users can still choose to enable Flash in the settings menu if they wish.

Dislike for the software isn't new: Steve Jobs memorably explained his problems with Flash in an open letter published back in 2010, but it's somehow clung doggedly to life, barely surviving the discovery of multiple critical security vulnerabilities every year. Most recently 400GB of files uncovered in the Hacking Team leak revealed some serious flaws in Flash that the spyware company used to force their way into target computers.

Adobe has scrambled to fix problems as they have become public, but the web's biggest companies have slowly withdrawn support from the software over the past few years. YouTube dropped Flash as its default player in favor of HTML5 in January, and Chrome now intelligently pauses instances of Flash video on its pages — even Adobe stopped active development of Flash Player for mobile in 2011, recognizing it as inferior to HTML5. This latest wave of anti-Flash action might not kill it immediately, but it should at least mark the beginning of the end for the software.

Correction: Mark Schmidt clarified Firefox's support for Flash in a tweet sent some time after his first, noting that future versions of the software may again be enabled by default if Adobe releases a new version.