News and Tips – 18July15

Flash Player Problems
Adobe Flash has a long history of security vulnerabilities; over a dozen have required patching in 2015 so far, three more were discovered and fixed recently.The tech community’s response has been pretty standard, despite journalists’ efforts to hype it up. Apple quietly continued to ignore Flash, which it has not supported on mobile devices since 2010. Internet Explorer and Google Chrome automatically patched their built-in Flash players. On July 13, Mozilla Firefox took things a step further. Instead of automatically updating the plugin like its competitors, Firefox disabled the Flash plugin. Users could re-enable it in Firefox’s settings, if they knew how. When Adobe released a patched version the very next day, savvy users who downloaded and installed it could view Flash videos, games and other missing content again. Flash is still used on 23 percent of the 483,000 Web pages tracked by the HTTP Archive, down from 39% three years ago. Untold numbers of smaller sites use Flash to display content, or offer games. Even Facebook still uses Flash. Mobile users get HTML5 videos, but desktop browsers are stuck with Flash.

The rub is that for users, there’s no magical way to switch to some other method of viewing or playing Flash content. Website developers will have to re-code those Flash-based videos, pages and games in the HTML5 language. That’s not a trivial undertaking, and some content will never be converted.

As of this writing, all known Flash vulnerabilities have been patched. So if your version is up to date, you can continue to use Flash safely. As I mentioned earlier, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer keep Flash updated automatically.

If you use some other browser, you should make sure that you have the latest, patched version of Flash installed on all of your devices. Go to the Adobe Flash Plugin Update page to get it. (Uncheck the “optional offer” checkbox in the middle of the page.) And during installation, be sure to set the plugin to update itself automatically in the future.

If you’re worried about future Flash bugs popping up, go ahead and remove it via the Control Panel. You may find that you don’t miss it at all. But if you do, you can always install it again.

Google Photo App on Android smartphones continues to upload your phone photos to Google servers without your knowledge, even if you have already uninstalled the Google Photos app from your device!

Once Google servers have that embarrassing  pic of you it could turn up in Google Photo search results when someone searches other pics of you. But you never take regrettable pics do you?
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WhatsApp Ranks Ranks Among Worst At Protecting Your Privacy
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released its annual report card of tech companies for 2015 based upon how much they keep your personal data secure from government snoops. And the Worst Companies Award goes to…

Yes, you heard right! WhatsApp is one of the three worst companies at protecting its users’ data so if you are concerned about your data privacy, you should think twice before using WhatsApp.
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