In case you still weren’t sure whether Adobe Flash posed a real security risk, one U.S. senator is now urging government agencies to stop using it.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has sent a letter to the top U.S. officials at three government agencies — the Department of Homeland Security, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Security Agency — requesting they coordinate to remove Adobe Flash from government use.
In his letter, Wyden requests three major actions be taken.
The first move Wyden requests is a mandate that government agencies will no longer deploy any new Flash-based content, effective within 60 days. Next, he suggests a requirement that federal agencies remove all of its Flash-based content from its websites by August 1, 2019. Finally, Wyden would like all governmental agencies to remove Flash from its desktop computers by the same date.
Adobe officially plans to retire Flash in the next couple of years. Flash’s demise, largely bolstered by the popularity of open standards like HTML5 and its inability to work with the mobile web, has been in trouble for quite some time. Last year Adobe announced it would completely end support for Adobe Flash Media Player in 2020. As Wyden claims, Adobe Flash has “serious, largely unfixable cybersecurity issues” and he would like to nip the potential future problems in the bud.
In his writing to these three agencies, Wyden points out how the “federal government has too often failed to transition away from software that has been decommissioned.” The Senator brings up Windows XP as an example. Microsoft’s end-of-life for the Windows XP version of its operating system was back in 2014. Yet U.S. government agencies are still using the retired operating system and they’re paying millions just to use them. A year after Windows XP was decommissioned, it was revealed that the U.S. Navy alone was paying Microsoft $9 million a year for premium support for still using Windows XP.
While it’s not clear just how many U.S. government sites still use Flash, one that Mashable has discovered is the National Weather Service’s website at weather.gov. Notably, the NWS’s website deploys Flash for its Enhanced Radar Image Loop.
When it comes to the web as a whole, W3Techs, a web technology survey company, found that only 4.9 percent of websites still use Flash — a drop from 28.5 percent in 2011. Google has stated that the number of Chrome users visiting a Flash website has gone from 80 percent in 2014 to under 8 percent earlier this year.
Wyden has proven to be one of the most tech-savvy members of the mostly tech-impaired senate. Let’s see if the officials who head up these agencies heed his completely nonpartisan Adobe Flash advice before it’s too late.