How Can I View Adobe Flash Presentations?

May 18, 2009

in digital media,Internet,photos and video,privacy & security

by David Hakala

Adobe Flash is a multimedia format that presents movie-like animations. You may find Flash files embedded in TV news Web sites and other visually oriented sites. To view Flash presentations you need special software.

The Adobe Flash Player is a free program distributed by Adobe Systems Inc., the owner of the Flash format. It can be used as a stand-alone player program for Flash files on your hard drive, or as a plug-in that plays Flash presentations in your Web browser.

Adobe Flash was formerly Macromedia Shockwave, and you may see Shockwave files with the swf extension. Shockwave files can be played by Adobe Reader and third-party applications such as VLC Media Player, Apple Quicktime, and Windows Media Player, with appropriate codecs added.

A Flash movie can also be incorporated into a self-playing executable file called a Projector. These files end with the exe extension. But it is very dangerous to run anything that claims to be a Flash Projector. An executable file can contain any sort of program, including a virus, keylogger, botnet application, etc., as well as a harmless-seeming Flash movie.

In fact, any Flash file can be infected with malware. The Flash format includes a scripting language similar to Javascript so programs can be written to do malicious things when a Flash movie is played. If you are going to view Flash presentations, you should have strong antimalware software installed and running.

Flash malware is difficult to detect by standard antimalware means. Security programs must watch for behavior that indicates a Flash file is up to no good and stop it when it is close to doing its evil deed. Flash malware must be “caught in the act”, a risky thing.

Flash malware is most often delivered through Flash-animated banner ads. Of course, you avoid all Flash presentations by not installing the Flash Player, but sometimes you may see a link to a Flash presentation you trust and really want to view. Flashback is an add-on for Firefox browsers that blocks Flash presentations but lets you play one with a simple right-click.

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at