Can we keep serving Flash content beyond the cutoff date by setting back the clock?
Flash support will be cut off by Dec 31, the new Linux version 78 of the Firefox browser is already limiting access by requiring an interactive permission to run Flash. we are running version 68, can we make sure it keeps serving Flash beyond the cut off date by setting the system clock to 2019 for instance?
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I don't think the date matters, it's whether your version of Firefox will run the plugin.
I assume that the Extended Support Release of Firefox 78 will not be modified to ignore the Flash plugin when Firefox 85/Firefox 78.7 ESR are released on January 26, 2021. Of course, I might be wrong about that.
Firefox 68 ESR is obsolete and unsupported. Why are you running this version?
Hmm, it looks like Flash has a kill switch to turn off the plugin on January 12th:
Thanks for your info! We are using Firefox 68 because when we upgraded to Firefox 78 it started prompting for permission every time Flash is run. We run Firefox on our server to convert Flash content to an image and so the browser should not require any interaction. We have an indication that setting back the system clock will work since Firefox 78 stopped prompting when we set the clock back a month. So if we set the clock to 2019, will the cutoff of Flash be avoided? How else would the browser or the Flash plugin known what date it is?
Usually the browser does not care what date it is except in validating SSL certificates. Perhaps what happened in your Firefox 78 test was that Firefox saved an activation permission with an expiration time, and when you set the clock back after the exception was saved, the exception's duration got extended until the clock catches up with the saved expiration time. However, I have no plans to test that.
Regarding whether the Flash plugin will run, I have no idea how the Flash kill switch works, based on system date, Adobe server date, phase of the moon...
There is a difference between how Firefox 68 handles the Flash plugin versus how Firefox 78 handles it, with the same plugin. So the date based behavior is happening in the browser and maybe the plugin. I guess only a Mozilla and an Adobe developer can answer my question.
The question of how often you need to activate the plugin in current releases of Firefox is a Firefox question. You can use Group Policy or a policies.json file to override the change in Firefox 78:
- Enforcing policies on Firefox for Enterprise
The question of whether the Flash plugin will work after the kill date is an Adobe question.
Interesting, this confirms what we ran into:
As previously announced in the Plugin Roadmap for Firefox, in Firefox 69 the Always Activate option for Flash plugin content has been removed. Firefox will now always ask for user permission before activating Flash content on a website. You can override this by adding domains in the FlashPlugin policy.
So I guess we could have solved that problem by using policies instead of going back to version 68. But as you said, what is the policy for keeping Flash running beyond Jan 12? Not sure.
Joop Kaashoek said
But as you said, what is the policy for keeping Flash running beyond Jan 12? Not sure.
There is not going to be a policy for that.
We did an experiment and ran the Firefox 68 browser on a server with a time in 2022 and even though it prompted that the Flash plugin was outdated it still allowed the option to run it anyway, always. That is all we need, so we won't need to set the clock back, just keep this version 68.