These days, virtually every website requires Adobe Flash Player to render some part of the user experience. That’s usually a good thing, and granted, most computers already have the free Flash Player plugin installed. What’s important to remember though, is that each of your browsers – say Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera or Safari – is relying on their own copy of the flash plugin. In deciding if you need to upgrade to the latest, most secure version, follow the instructions below.
CNET’s security blogger Michael Horowitz described more extensively in a recent blog entry “Update your Flash Player Now – And Do It Right” the low-down and why it is so important to upgrade right away your browsers on Macs, Linux and Windows to version 18.104.22.168.
“On December 18, give or take, Adobe Systems released a security bulletin that basically says old versions of the Flash player are buggy as heck (see Flash Player update available to address security vulnerabilities). Specifically, versions 22.214.171.124 and earlier contain nine different bugs that Adobe calls critical. Simply viewing a Web page is all it takes for a bad guy to take control of your computer. This is true on Macs and Linux too. The only way to be safe is to upgrade to the newest version, 126.96.36.199.”
Horowitz goes on to say that “I read a number of articles on this topic before writing this posting and none mentioned the fact that you have to update the Flash player for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. The two browsers use separate and independent copies of Flash. You can see this in the screenshot above from the Add/Remove Programs applet in the Windows XP control panel. The ActiveX version is used by Internet Explorer, the plug-in version is used by Firefox.”
“The right way also means uninstalling the prior version of Flash before installing the new version, not installing any other software other than the Flash player and being 100 percent sure that all old versions of the software have been removed, even those in nonstandard locations.” Horowitz recommends the following course of action:
- Check which version of Flash plugin is installed: This is really easy, just open in each of your browsers www.adobe.com/products/flash/about/ and you’ll learn which plugin version is installed.
- Uninstall your old flash player plugins: Rather than going straight to Adobe’s Flash Player Download Center, Horowitz suggest to first remove old old versions of the previous flash plugin. “Adobe has instructions on how to uninstall the Adobe Flash Player plug-in and ActiveX control that include a link to download its uninstall programs.” Download the uninstaller, quit all browsers, then run the uninstaller.
- Upgrade to version 188.8.131.52 of Flash Player: “After running the uninstaller, go back to the uninstaller’s tester page to verify that the Flash player was uninstalled correctly. If it was, you should see” a green jigsaw piece, prompting you to install the plug-in. Click on it and follow the self-explanatory procedure.”
That should do the trick. If it doesn’t, visit Horowitz’s blog to learn about several non-standard situations that could complicate your upgrade process.