Google blocks Flash ads in Chrome update

September 1, 2015 | 12:22

Tags: #adobe-flash #browser #flash #flash-player #html5 #insecurity #rich-media #security #vulnerability

Companies: #chrome #google

From today, Google's popular Chrome web browser is to begin automatically blocking Flash-based adverts, delivering a serious blow to Adobe's popular but vulnerability-laden rich media platform.

Adobe's Flash emerged as the go-to software for embedding rich media content - everything from streaming video to interactive games - in web pages, and found considerable love from advertisers as a replacement for the animated GIF. Unfortunately, the software's ubiquity made it a popular target for attackers, and its security was found wanting: rarely a month goes by that Adobe doesn't issue yet another critical patch for a remote code execution flaw exploitable by malicious websites and advertising networks. With rival technologies, including the HTML5 open standard, offering many of the same facilities without the reputation for poor security, Adobe Flash's days are likely numbered - and Google's move could hasten its end.

From today, users of Chrome will find that Flash-based adverts will be replaced by a static image across all websites. Only those who click on the image will have the advert loaded for playback. It's a move rival browser makers are likely to follow, and one that could spell the end of Flash as a medium for advertising - something Google, whose own advertising platforms concentrate on HTML5, would welcome.

Adobe isn't ignorant that Flash is on the out, however. In 2011 the company announced Adobe Edge, a rich-media generation tool which produced HTML5 output. Designed as a successor to Flash, Adobe Edge has since been integrated into the Adobe Edge web-authoring suite as Adobe Edge Animate. At the time of writing, Adobe had not responded to Google's decision to block Flash in Chrome.
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