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Adobe auto-update eases Flash update chore - on Windows only

Backdoors plugged without lifting a finger

Adobe has introduced an auto-updater for its Flash software packages that reduces the chore of updating the widely-used application by automating the process for all supported browsers on Windows machines. Previously users had to apply individual updates to Chrome, Firefox and IE add-ons and plug-ins, a process that often went neglected, leaving systems open to attack.

The auto-update tool was released on Wednesday alongside a cross-platform update that addresses two memory corruption-type vulnerabilities in versions 10 and 11, the currently-supported version of Flash. The update applies to all operating systems, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Android smartphones and is rated "priority 2" by Adobe, which means the "critical" vulnerabilities covered are yet to be weaponised into exploits or abused in malware but are still nasty and ought to be patched within the next month.

Users of Adobe on Windows, Macintosh and Android are also affected by the same set of bugs and also need to upgrade, as explained in a security alert by Adobe here.

Cloud-based security services firm Qualys welcomed the auto-updating feature as a big step forward for Adobe, whose update process has historically been a bit of a chore.

"The most interesting addition to this version of Flash is that Adobe included an automatic update feature," writes Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys in a blog post. "If the user opts-in the player will in the future silently update all browsers on the system to the most current version of Flash. We highly recommend to opt-in, running on the latest version of Flash adds considerable resilience to one's setup, plus it avoids the chore of updating all of your installed browsers by hand."

Adobe "background updater" for Flash is Windows only, at least for now. More details on how the technology works are explained in a blog post by Adobe here. ®

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