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Adobe Flash is an animation, multimedia, and software platform specifically developed for use on the Web by Adobe, Inc.
Originally developed by Macromedia, Flash came under the Adobe brand when Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005. Adobe Flash can be used to develop animations, graphics, browser-based games, web applications, and mobile apps. Many websites have utilized Flash to display streaming video, interactive content, and advertisements, though its usage has declined in recent years.
Viewing Flash animations requires a plug-in, a software program specifically designed to work with an existing program, such as your web browser. Flash plugs into your web browser and plays multimedia content embedded on a web page. Many web browsers come bundled with the Flash player. If you don’t already have it, you can download the latest version for free from the Adobe website.
Flash has long been criticized for its security vulnerabilities, and in 2015, Adobe announced it was rebranding its Flash Professional animation studio as Adobe Animate CC. While the company insisted they would continue to release updates for Flash player, there is much speculation that Flash will eventually be retired in favor of open standard alternatives, such as HTML5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it unsafe to use Flash?
Flash has long been seen as a security risks, as cyber criminals have taken advantage of vulnerabilities in the platform to gain access to users’ machines. Like any software, the best way to ensure your computer is safe is to regularly update all of your software, particularly software that is specifically used for online activities or that has access to the Internet. Whenever vulnerabilities are identified, Adobe Flash is updated to eliminate them. The sooner you install new updates, the more secure your system is. Of course, if you have no reason to use Flash, then there is no reason to expose your computer to this potential risk. As more webpages move away from Flash, you may find that uninstalling the program will have a minimal effect on your browsing experience.
Do mobile devices support Flash websites?
Most Android and iOS devices do not actively support Adobe Flash, which is one more reason Flash usage has been steadily declining. In order to view flash content on your mobile device, you will have to install a Flash viewer app or use a mobile browser specifically designed to support Flash. These devices do, however, support Flash-based mobile games developed using Adobe Air.
Flash has also been criticized over privacy concerns regarding its use of flash cookies. Like traditional cookies, these are locally stored files that collect information about your web browsing so the sites you visit can remember you and your preferences. Unlike traditional cookies, flash cookies are rarely disclosed in site privacy policies and users often do not have the same level of control over their usage or storage.