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March 26th, 2017

FedEx Will Pay You $5 to Install Flash on Your Machine

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 Office Flash screenshot

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.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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10 comments to FedEx Will Pay You $5 to Install Flash on Your Machine

  • DocB

    Dont use FedEx, and tell this to them why.

  • Mike

    > “Nobody who knows anything about online security uses Flash anymore, except when it’s absolutely necessary.”

    It is never necessary…unless you are being forced.

    I haven’t used Flash since before Jobs made his statement in 2010 and it was pretty much the only time I ever agreed with anything he said. Flash is dangerous and should not be used.

    That being said: Schools still often REQUIRE students to use Flash for lots of content. Schools: Pull your heads out of your a** and fix it.

  • xyz

    be serious. this is just google&apple pushing html5 crap on users.
    I have been using flash for 20 years or so. 1995 to 2015 on various linux boxes debian red hat ubuntu .. never got any problem in all that time I love it adobe great job thanks for making a multimedia standard for the internet . I understand google&apple as a any duopole entities will black mail any competitor . and use lame excuse to wage war . reminds me of bush 2001. yes i know for my security he went and kill as many human as he could Google &Apple are no different . I heard you competition production are dangerous ?????? just tell me dangerous for you or me ?

  • @xyz: Flash is a “standard” and HTML5 is anticompetitive?

    What am weather like on Bizarro World?

  • Mike

    @xyz

    ROTFLMAO.

    > “flash…never got any problem”

    Stop it, you’re making me cry from laughing too hard.

    Flash = proprietary closed garbage*

    *Flash causes cancer and erectile dysfunction. You should stop using it before it kills you.

  • Eddie G.

    Hilarious comments!…..LoL! As far as I know, I’ve used Flash, and ween it worked it worked well. but ever since learning about it’s security flaws?, I’ve turned it off everywhere, and I’ve not missed it at all. My Linux desktops and laptops don’t miss it, and video content works.

    RIP Flash…I knew you well.

  • tracyanne

    I stopped using Flash quite a while ago, mainly because my Internet connection is so slow I can’t watch a Flash video in real time. I download any videos I want to watch. If it turns out I can’t download it, well I’m no worse off.

  • mikef90000

    Earth to anti-Flash zealots, the real problem with Flash is the THOUSANDS OF MEDIA SITES that use Flash based players. Apparently ‘free’ news content must be DRM protected. Working hard to prevent my head from exploding …….

  • @mikef90000: Well, that and the resource use and the security problems.

    It really was great for vector graphics animation, though.

  • Mike

    Saying Flash has security problems is like saying a black hole is somewhat dim.

    If there’s anything worse for security it’s likely another Adobe product. They make Microsoft look partway competent.