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More Ails for Adobe's Flash

By Tim Beyers - Updated Apr 6, 2017 at 10:25PM

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A new attack exposes yet another vulnerability.

Flash is under attack again. Only this time, neither Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) nor Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) play the role of assailant. Hackers are this week's miscreants.

Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE) this week warned of a vulnerability in the latest edition of Flash that could allow a hacker to take control a PC. In an advisory, the company said it had received reports of hackers targeting some Windows systems by inserting corrupted Flash files into Word documents sent via email.

For its part, Adobe says that the vulnerability doesn't involve Acrobat Reader or PDF files -- a popular target, according to security researchers -- an initial update covering Flash Player for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris will arrive by the end of the week. Additional updates for Adobe Acrobat and Reader are expected by April 25, with all remaining items available in the quarterly upgrade released on June 14.

Good for Adobe for addressing the issue. But for users, these sorts of emergency updates have become common. Adobe patched a similar flaw in  Flash Player, Reader, and Acrobat three weeks ago after learning of hackers using Flash files embedded in Excel and sent via email to distribute malicious code.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has long criticized Flash for lax security and hogging compute resources and Google has thrown much of its streaming support behind its own WebM standard for video encoding. Even worse, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has joined both of its primary competitors in committing to HTML5 over the long term.

In other words, Flash is losing allies. You know what? As a user, I don't care. Sure, I sometimes miss it on the iPhone, but its lack of Flash support doesn't prevent me from craving Apple's iPad.

Frankly, that's what bothers me most about Adobe as an investor. Its troubles aren't the cause for freakout that a break in the iOS would be. Users don’t appear to see this as a hair-on-fire problem.

So thanks for the update, Adobe. But let's not make a huge deal out of this. Your online software, while important, just doesn't matter as much as it used to.

Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think about Flash and its alternatives, as well as the companies best positioned to offer security in an insecure digital world using the comments box below. You can also rate Adobe in Motley Fool CAPS.

The Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature that allows users to stay ahead of the curve and receive up to date news on companies like Adobe, or any of its competitors. To get up-to-date company news and analysis, add Adobe to your watchlist.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article had incorrect information about the timing of the update Adobe is releasing to fix the security issue. The Fool regrets the error. 

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