Confronting Flash: How To Temporarily Be (Virus-)Free Of Adobe
To say that my recent two-part series on computer viruses and their likely causes was popular with readers would be a bit of an understatement The root cause of this interest is the unfortunate reality that many of you suffered the same fate as my friend. Reader comments admittedly don’t definitively confirm Adobe Flash as the infection vector culprit, But the fact that my friend has been virus-free since I disabled Adobe Flash support on her system nearly a month back, in spite of no fundamental change in her computer usage habits (yes, she’s still reading her Yahoo email online via the web browser interface…sigh…), is telling. And anyway, disabling Flash has the added benefits of removing eye candy distractions and their system performance-sapping accompaniments.
An email exchange with a different friend earlier today reminded me that I hadn’t yet shared the details of exactly how I neutered Flash within various web browsers. While you might be tempted to just completely de-install the Flash Player, you’ll probably subsequently find yourself wishing you had occasional access to it (YouTube videos, for example, and don’t forget about those ads on EDN’s website that cover my paycheck!). And while you can dive deeply into browser settings to disable (and selectively re-enable) the Flash plug-in, such minutia is beyond the capabilities of most Mac and PC users. After a bit of research, here are the alternatives I came up with:
- For Firefox, fire up Flashblock. As the developer writes, it "takes a pessimistic approach to dealing with Macromedia Flash content on a webpage and blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content."
- For Google Chrome, use the similarly-named (and similarly-featured), FlashBlock. Recent browser updates enable extensions support on Chrome not only for Windows but also for Linux and OS X.
- Internet Explorer users should check out Toggle Flash. It works as advertised; the only thing I don’t like about it is that the icon doesn’t change depending on whether Flash is enabled or disabled at the time, so the only way to know the plug-in status is to load a Flash-inclusive page and see what happens (or not).
- And Safari fans (at least on OS X) can try ClickToFlash, which I haven’t yet used but Jon Gruber recommends. If you’ve found a similar utility for Safari for Windows, sound off in the comments, please!