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When you build digital stuff all day, you develop opinions. Lots of opinions.


Digital Trends

“I hate Flash” edition. Flash. I hate it. Nowadays, it seems like no one likes it. But not so long ago, it was the go-to technology for agencies that wanted to offer their clients something special on the Internet. So what’s so bad about Flash? After all, it’s flexible, easy to use, easy to learn, and can create beautiful animations in a fraction of the time of Canvas. What’s so bad? In a word, everything… Flash is not too big to fail. As developers embrace open standards and open source for web development, Flash represents the bad old days when a closed, proprietary technology held the web hostage. Many technorati have committed to uninstalling the Flash plugin and refusing to view web pages that make use of Flash. This is called (at least partly tongue-in-cheek) the “Occupy Flash” movement. Their concern is that by continuing to allow Flash to exist, an outmoded technology is allowed to persist and time and resources are wasted on supporting it. Application to Marketing: Currently, the “Occupy Flash” movement is small and mostly confined to developers and other digital specialists. However, a company that continues to support Flash on their desktop site now risks having their content be unviewable by a growing audience. Not to mention, it hasn’t been supported in mobile for a while now. Availability: Occupy Flash is still in its infancy. But it enjoys real, popular support. Any company contemplating a redesign or even basic maintenance to an existing website, should think twice before including Flash. Read More Malvertising’s Favorite Technology Malware hidden in banner ads has been a growing problem. How can a banner ad infect your system and compromise your files? Flash makes it possible. While the hard-working folks at Adobe continue to play whack-a-mole with Flash’s vulnerabilities, new zero day exploits for Flash are uncovered about once a month. (Zero day exploits are unknown security vulnerabilities that hackers discover and then keep secret so they won’t be patched.) Application to Marketing: Banners don’t need any more bad press. Ad blocking technology is bad for all marketers. If consumers come to believe that digital display is dangerous AND annoying, an entire medium and a major revenue source for content providers will be compromised.. Availability: If you aren’t using Chrome and you haven’t updated your Flash plugin, malware from Flash banners may already exist on your system. Read More Wait, “Hacking Team” is the name of a real company? Yes, there is actually a company named Hacking Team. Beyond their undeniable skill in coming up with brand names, they are a provider of Spyware to a variety of repressive dictatorships around the world. But recently Hacking Team got hacked. The hackers released a variety of embarrassing and potentially criminal information about the company’s clients. But they also revealed a very effective zero day exploit that uses (you guessed it) Flash. Application to Marketing: Adobe was quick to publish a security patch to cover this vulnerability. But let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t the last security problem Flash will have. The risk is that someday a catastrophic security breach may be tied to a company’s use of Flash. And then the lawsuits will begin. Winter is coming, people. Availability: It’s been patched. So as long as all the security updates have been made to your browser, you should be fine. (40% of users do not install the latest security updates on their browsers.) Read More Mozilla is mad as hell Shortly after the release of the latest zero day exploit that uses Flash to gain access to people’s private files, Mozilla said enough is enough. Mozilla is the non-profit association responsible for the popular Firefox browser. For several days this month, they simply blocked Adobe Flash on their browsers. Eventually, Adobe released security patches and Mozilla grudgingly enabled Flash support again. But a kind of Rubicon was crossed when a major browser declared that they no longer had faith in Flash. Application to Marketing: This is big. 21.3% of web traffic uses Firefox. (Compared to 7.1% for Internet Explorer.) If your site or your marketing materials use Flash, it wasn’t viewable for several days to almost a quarter of internet users. And the Firefox user base tends to be better educated, higher income and more tech savvy than the average user. Availability: Mozilla resumed support, but don’t let that fool you. This was a trial balloon. There will come a time when new browsers may not support Flash. Read More But it’s not just Mozilla… At about the same time that Mozilla withdrew support, Facebook’s security boss Alex Stamos made a public statement that it was time for Adobe to establish a termination date for Flash. Google has announced that it will pause Flash content that it believes is playing too long (mostly video then.) And Apple’s loathing for Flash is a matter of public record. When three of the four largest technology companies on earth declare Flash technology-non-grata, you have a problem on your hands. (Amazon doesn’t need to care much about Flash.) Application to Marketing: In technology, it’s always worth asking yourself if a technology has a committed installed base of users. And there are still a lot of websites and adtech platforms that rely on Flash. I might think they’re delusional, but Flash isn’t going to go away overnight. Availability: Short of Flash suddenly demonstrating an amazing new usefulness (like Java once did), Flash will die. However, it will die a slow death as companies that rely on Flash lobby for continued support. In two years, I’ll be surprised if Safari, Chrome and Firefox install the Flash plugin automatically. (I’ve learned never to try to predict Internet Explorer.) Read More

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