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Adobe Flash Makes Browsers Bite It

Adobe have known about the bug for sixteen months.


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Matthew Dempsky doesn't care anymore. He alerted Adobe to a critical flaw in their flash plugin back in September 2008. Adobe still haven't fixed it. So he's going public.

The flaw doesn't seem to affect Safari 4.0.4 and reportedly won't affect Chrome either but a lot of other browsers definitely go down for the count.


Test it for yourself. Surf to the following URL. There you can read what you need to do.

http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/explain.html

  1. curl -s http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/flashcrash-20080919.zip >flashcrash.zip
  2. unzip flashcrash.zip
  3. cd flashcrash-20080919
  4. python flashcrash.py

Your terminal window should now tell you the following.

Go to http://127.0.0.1:8080/ to crash your browser. :-)

So open your browser and surf to http://127.0.0.1:8080/.

The code alternately returns flash modules for versions 7 and 8. And that's enough to make things go south.

Sixteen Months

Dempsky's tested the code on Safari 3.1.2 and Firefox 3.0.1 with Adobe's Flash Player plugin 9.0.115.0, 9.0.124.0, and 10.0.12.10 on OS X 10.5.4 and 10.5.5; and on Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0, Firefox 3.0.1, and Chrome 0.2.149.30 with Adobe's Flash Player plugin 9.0.45.0 and 9.0.124.0 on Windows XP Professional SP2.

The code's also been tested on Firefox 3.0.1 with Adobe's Flash Player plugin 9.0.124.0 on Ubuntu 8.04 on amd64; but the plugin runs as a separate process on Ubuntu so the browser survives.

You could also go directly to the following URL if you're prepared to crash right away.

http://flashcrash.dempsky.org/

Dempsky reports.

This page exploits a bug I reported to Adobe in September 2008 and has affected every release of Flash on every platform since then. Despite numerous exchanges with the flash product manager about the bug, the bug report being hidden from the public for 'security' reasons, and Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch's claims otherwise, it continues to be an issue.

Dempsky cites Adobe's statement from 4 February in PC Magazine.

Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today.

Dempsky continues.

I'm not an Apple fan boy out to prove Steve Jobs right in Apple's decision not to support Flash on the iPhone / iPad. Instead, I'm just a software engineer who at one time had to deal with Adobe's sorry excuse for a development platform and made an earnest effort on several occasions at helping them improve it for everyone. (This issue is merely the tip of the iceberg of ridiculous bugs and random backwards and forwards incompatibilities known as Adobe's Flash Player plug-in.) After trying to work with them to fix this issue and experiencing nothing but frustration, I just don't give a damn anymore.

Apple users have long understood that Adobe's flash for OS X is teh suck. It's bloated, races the CPU, and is crash-prone. It's not surprising Apple don't want the POS on their handsets and tablets.

See Also
Matthew Dempsky: Flash Crash!
Mochi Media: Adobe Flash Player plug-in browser crash
Matthew Dempsky: Adobe Flash Player plug-in browser crash
Security Focus: Adobe Flash Player plug-in null pointer dereference and browser crash

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