We certainly hope that FedEx shows more concern over the safety of its drivers and pilots than it shows to customers wanting to order printing online.
FedEx is making you an offer you can’t afford to accept. It’s offering to give you $5 (actually, it’s a discount on orders over $30) if you’ll just install Adobe Flash on your machine.
Nobody who knows anything about online security uses Flash anymore, except when it’s absolutely necessary. Why? Because Flash is the poster child for the “security-vulnerability-of-the-hour” club — a group that includes another Adobe product, Acrobat. How unsafe is Flash? Let’s put it this way: seven years ago, Steve Jobs announced that Flash was to be forever banned from Apple’s mobile products. One of the reasons he cited was a report from Symantec that “highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009.”
Flash security hasn’t gotten any better since.
These days, Flash is considered so unsafe that Chrome 56 only loads flash on an “opt-in” basis, and both Mozilla Firefox and Windows’ Edge browsers plan to quit supporting it in the near future. If Microsoft thinks it’s a security nightmare, you can be sure that “nightmare” is too soft a description.
The death of Flash is long past due, finally coming about because HTML 5 offers an alternative that has made it possible for nearly all major websites, from Facebook to YouTube to Netflix, to drop Flash (or Microsoft’s Silverlight, in Netflix’s case) to adopt the HTML 5 standard.
But not FedEx, and therein lies the problem.
It seems that the company’s Online Printing Services, which allows customers to design and order print jobs for flyers, posters, presentations and the like, still relies on Flash. This is evidently proving to be problematic for the company, as we’re now in an era when the number of installed Flash users is rapidly declining. Oddly, the company’s fix isn’t a redesign to make its site work with HTML 5, the new standard, but a bribe to get users to download Adobe’s latest and greatest version of an obsolete technology.
Visitors to the the FedEx Office website who don’t have Flash installed and at the ready, are served an “oops-your-browser-doesn’t-support-Flash” page, complete with step-by-step instructions for its installation in Chrome and Safari, which don’t support Flash. The page also includes the $5 coupon code, FLA726, as “a thank you for your patience and for being a valued FedEx Office customer.” How sweet, eh?
The trouble isn’t just that FedEx wants users to install Flash in order to use its service, it wants them to install it so that it’s always enabled, which leaves them vulnerable whenever they’re using a browser.
As Gabe Carey at Digital Trends put it, “this could be considered a lazy workaround for a company more than sizable enough to rework its website to support HTML 5.”
Yup. True dat. Especially since it’s going to have to update its website sooner rather than later anyway. Flash isn’t yesterday’s technology, it’s last decade’s technology.