Making The Plugins That Come In Your Browser Optional

If you were on the internet around 15 years ago then you know how static of place it could be. It is not like the internet that we have now. The internet that we have now is full of action and video and a lot of other things that make it interesting. While the internet that we had in the past was interesting it was not as interesting as what we have now.

A big reason why the internet was able to form into the way it is now is because of the use of browsers. The browser standards changed and we were able to get a lot more interactivity with the internet. But it was not only the browsers that changed during that time. It was also the programs that came with the browsers that changed. Those programs were called plugins and we started to see a lot of them make their rise in that era. It was determined that the scripting tools and the protocol of the average browser at that time were not good enough and we needed more.

optional-plugins

So we started to see the rise in plugins like Flash, Shockwave, Java, and many more. These plugins, once installed, allowed us to do things with our browsers that we were never able to do before. We were able to have complex animation and we were able to use the browser to run full blown applications.

The leader in the plugin revolution was one that was called Flash. You are sure to have seen flash animation at one point when you are using your computer. If you have ever seen an ad talk to you or become animated when you ran your mouse over it then there is a good chance that the ad was made of Flash. Flash comes installed in 97% of the computers that are out there. Flash is what also heralded in the video revolution on the internet. The technology behind Flash was what made websites like Youtube possible. While there was certainly video on the internet before Flash, it was a lot harder to use and no fun to try and watch either. The Flash technology changed all of that.

The sentiment towards Flash starts to change

But the public sentiment towards Flash and other types of plugins started to change a few years ago. There were many reasons but two reasons stand out above all of them. The first reason why is because Flash and other plugins were starting to become abused by advertisers and other people who developed the technology. Instead of going to a web page and having a nice peaceful time, you were instead bombarded by a bunch of ads everywhere making noise and going all over the place. This is annoying and no one wants to deal with that. So instead of blaming the people who made the ads, they instead blamed the technology itself.

Another reason why people turned against flash and the other plugin technology was because of safety reasons. You started to see more and more security holes brought in because of the use of plugins in the browser and not because of the browser itself. Every time you would hear of a major security breach in an operating system, it was not because of the operating system itself but the plugin from a browser. People in the industry really noticed this trend and they wanted to put an end to it. But they also knew that there was no viable replacement for Flash yet. That was until browsers started to become compliant with the HTML 5 specs. HTML 5 gives your browser a lot of the same abilities as Flash but with a lot less holes in your system.

Apple was the first major company to turn the tide against Flash by not letting the technology on their phones. And since the IPhones became so popular, this hit any site using Flash hard. Now we see another major company following in Appleā€™s footsteps.

Mozilla has decided that they are going to make flash on any website opt in on future versions of the browser. In other words, if you want Flash content to run on the browser then you have to manually hit the button to let it run. This is going to worry a lot of the average users of the web because they are automatically going to think that something is wrong with the site. This means that a lot of these websites are going to take away the flash elements of the site to something that is friendlier to the browser.

There are going to be a lot of people who argue whether this is a good thing or not. But the fact remains that Flash and a lot of the other plugins which are out there leave a lot of holes in the system. And that is something that really must be addressed.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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