Chrome: Flash is almost, almost, almost dead

If you use Google’s Chrome browser after 4 September the latest update will make it even harder to use in-browser Adobe Flash.

Starting with Chrome update 69, the browser will require users to explicitly enable Flash every single time they want to use it. Chrome will no longer remember this preference between sessions, so every time a user hits a site that uses Flash, they’ll have to say “yes, I really want to enable this extension.”

If it sounds annoying, it absolutely is, and that’s by design. This is just another step on the timeline that Chrome and many other browsers have set upon to slowly, slowly wean the public off Flash in anticipation of Adobe’s official plan to end support for the plugin by 2020.

Flash may have been the plugin of choice some time ago for fun in-browser games and interactive features, but it was also the go-to plugin for many attackers, as it was notoriously vulnerable to exploitation.

After years of Adobe releasing patches to try and plug the holes, browser makers took matters into their own hands and started to slowly pull support in order to protect users (and their products) from nasty attacks. Adobe similarly saw the writing on the wall and decided to stop the madness by announcing Flash’s end of life.

Flash’s near-ubiquity online has made it tricky to kill though, and the timeline for its demise has been (or at least felt) long indeed. Even while browsers continue to take measures to pull their support for the plugin, the vulnerabilities still roll in – and the pleas from security pros to “update your Flash now!” continue unabated.

The next step in Chrome’s timeline – summer 2019 – is to completely disable Flash by default, requiring users to go into their settings to enable the plugin every time they want it to run. After that, in 2020, it’s game over for Flash entirely. Hopefully.