How does the latest Windows Update that removes Adobe Flash Player affect me?
Adobe Flash, originally released by Macromedia in 1995, is a once widely used and vastly capable web application platform. In 2005 Flash player was installed on more devices than any other internet-based media application, including Java, Quicktime, and Windows Media Player. Flash media player still exists today but has been widely deprecated over the last decade.
Due to its wide use, and constant updates, Flash has had hundreds of reported vulnerabilities, with many having been exploited to infect computers and mobile devices with malicious software. Due to high cost and effort of maintaining Flash, Adobe began to slowly transition away from Flash in favor of HTML5. As time went on, many websites began to adopt the more secure, and more rapidly developed HTML5 platform as well. Adobe officially announced in 2017 that Flash would be considered end of life at the end of 2020.
In 2010, Apple restricted use of Flash in iOS, it’s operating system for mobile devices, due to poor performance and the negative impact on battery life. Many years later, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox followed suit, disabling Flash by default in their browsers. On October 26th, 2020 Microsoft released update KB4577856, which completely removes Flash Player, as well as support for Flash, from it’s Windows operating systems.
What if I still need Flash?
The update is currently only available as an optional download from the Microsoft update catalog, but Microsoft has stated their intentions to include it in automatic Windows Updates as well as WSUS in early 2021. If after installing this update, you find that you are unable to complete certain tasks, and need to reinstall Adobe Flash, you have only two options. You can either use System Restore to rollback to a restore point created previous to installing the update or reinstall Microsoft Windows from scratch and avoid installing the update moving forward. Simply uninstalling the update will not resume your PC’s ability to use Adobe Flash. It’s worth mentioning that avoiding the install of the update not only puts Adobe Flash at risk, but your entire operating system, including your files and documents.
It is important to keep in mind that as of January 1st, 2021, there will be no further updates to Adobe Flash, and as new vulnerabilities are discovered they will go unaddressed. This means that the longer you use Flash, the more at-risk your PC will be. Sandstorm IT strongly recommends identifying what, if any, business operations you have that depend on Adobe Flash and immediately starting to transition towards solutions that are fully supported.