Adobe Systems Inc. today released an emergency update to fix a dangerous security hole in its widely-installed Flash Player browser plugin. The company warned that the vulnerability is already being exploited in targeted attacks, and urged users to update the program as quickly as possible.
In an advisory issued Tuesday morning, Adobe said the latest version of Flash — v. 188.8.131.52 on Windows and Mac OS X — fixes a critical flaw (CVE-2015-3113) that is being actively exploited in “limited, targeted attacks.” The company said systems running Internet Explorer for Windows 7 and below, as well as Firefox on Windows XP, are known targets of these exploits.
If you’re unsure whether your browser has Flash installed or what version it may be running, browse to this link. Adobe Flash Player installed with Google Chrome, as well as Internet Explorer on Windows 8.x, should automatically update to the latest version. To force the installation of an available update on Chrome, click the triple bar icon to the right of the address bar, select “About Google” Chrome, click the apply update button and restart the browser.
The most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page, but beware potentially unwanted add-ons, like McAfee Security Scan. To avoid this, uncheck the pre-checked box before downloading, or grab your OS-specific Flash download from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.)
In lieu of patching Flash Player yet again, it might be worth considering whether you really need to keep Flash Player installed at all. In a happy coincidence, earlier today I published a piece about my experience going a month without having Flash Player installed. The result? I hardly missed it at all.