Computer Update: FLASH Gordon Strikes Again

I hope you love the subject lines of my e-mails. I try to put a lot of thought into them.

I don’t mean to harp on computer security all the time — but things are getting serious out there. I’m not writing this e-mail to a business, but rather to a consumer just like you.

Adobe — the maker of Flash software that 90% of you have on your computer and I’m sure at least 50% of you use on a regular basis — issued another EMERGENCY update this week. Computer hackers found yet another way to break into people’s computers using Flash. This is becoming a disturbing pattern. There have been emergency updates issued for Flash in each of the past few months. In fact I can recall two in the past month.

Since last year, these updates have been getting pushed to your computer from Adobe automatically. At worst, you might get prompted from time to click OK to install the latest Flash. This is true for Mac and Windows. However, sometimes the automatic updates have not been very timely.

You might be asking,  how do I even know that I’ve used Flash? If you’ve ever looked at a video online, played an online game, or looked at some type of animations online — I’m almost certain you’ve used Flash. Before I get into remedies — I just want to let you know e-mail you check in your browser and online banking DO NOT use Flash.

Flash does not come from Microsoft or Apple. It is not an “essential” component of your computer. Flash is produced by Adobe, a 3rd party company. It is a legitimate product. Adobe is a multi-billion-dollar company.

Windows users regularly get burned by Flash based attacks. Mac users could get attacked in theory, but I haven’t heard of any widespread problems yet. However, Mac users with a solid anti-virus program are in good shape. You can take my advice or not. I wouldn’t say your chances of getting burned are not as random as hitting the jackpot at Foxwoods. However, I think its like parking your car in the street every night instead of the driveway. You may get clipped. When I deal with a virus / malware attack with a customer the bill is commonly between $200 and $300. I’m going to offer a couple of options for free advice via e-mail….

By e-mail and free of charge, I can tell you how to do one or both of the following
1. Disable Flash in the Firefox browser
2. Download and install the Google Chrome browser. The Chrome browser makes a difference here because unlike any other browser Google compiles its own version of Flash for Chrome. Google can update Flash any time through a Chrome update which is automatic and flawless. Flash does not require a separate update.

If you just want to keep on doing what you’re doing — I’m NOT going to tell you you’re wrong. If you’re happy with the way things are — I’m not making a Joe Namath guarantee that malware is not going to invade your computer tomorrow.

If you need help dealing with Flash and the Safari browser or Internet Explorer — that would be something we could do during an appointment focused on security issues or a more general appointment. These fixes, while not time consuming, require system wide changes.