Flash is the past: Is your website at risk?
Web technology changes rapidly and what was widely used and supported two years ago could now be obsolete and a security liability. Flash is one such outdated web technology that is known to provide an opening for hackers to access private information stored or communicated via a website. Yet, there are still many websites that use flash to communicate messages to users – and healthcare website are notoriously guilty.
Security risks aside, the use of outdated technology can be particularly frustrating for mobile users on devices – Android and iOS – where flash is not supported. When flash is used to convey significant or important pieces of information, mobile users completely miss the message. As mobile access to websites continues to increase, businesses are missing opportunities to convert leads as mobile users are immediately leaving the site or missing the vital call to actions.
In an effort to deter the use of flash – particularly on mobile devices – Google will now issue warnings when they find the website is not supported on a user’s device. Google is often questioned about the value of their updates, but many people are openly supporting this particular rule. The warning will look like this:
So what are the implications of using unsupported web technologies?
Organic traffic may decline. Users already frustrated with encountering unsupported technologies like Flash are likely to skip a website altogether if they are notified up front that the website won’t work on their device. This could result in visitors choosing your competitor’s updated site with supported technology over your site – even if you offer the better solution.
Loss in ranking position. Google hasn’t specifically said sites using unsupported technology (i.e sites using anything other than HTML5) would see a drop in ranking, but based on history it’s not hard to imagine that this will be added to their ranking algorithm soon - if it hasn’t already.
Financial impact and brand devaluation. Over time any technology that is not supported with updates becomes vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The risk to a company’s financial position and brand value is too important to not keep technology updated. In the healthcare industry, the stakes are even higher that a security breach could result in the release of private patient information.
Security risks. Adobe has already been forced to release an emergency update to Flash this year to prevent hackers gaining remote access to control a user’s computer. This patch was only provided for desktop users as Adobe is no longer supporting Flash for mobile. This means that hackers still have a window of opportunity to access a website and private data through anyone visiting your site on a mobile device. Updating your website to remove Flash and other dated programs will not provide complete protection against hackers, but it is a huge step in protecting against data breaches.