As the internet becomes even more interactive, Adobe's Flash and Reader applets will become even more omnipresent, causing them to surpass Microsoft Office applications as the most oft-targeted bits of software by cybercriminals, according to McAfee.
This prediction is the result of the
well-accepted theory that being on top puts a target on your back for cybercriminals, not because anyone wants to take you down, but because they want access to your market share. Microsoft has dealt with this curse for over a decade, and their ability to compete has undoubtedly been hampered, both by a constant need to focus resources on security rather than R&D, and a probably undeserved bad reputation for being virus-prone.
Adobe finds itself in a much different realm than Microsoft, however, facing no fierce competition (to the products in question) since it acquired its main rival, Macromedia, in 2005. Flash has become such a standard even among the tech giants like Microsoft and Google, Adobe has been able to avoid new competition simply by protecting what it already has. Going forward, Adobe will need to look at improving security as a sunken cost, but one that is required to deter the world's network of developers. The problems for Adobe will come when someone else comes to market with a significant innovation, if Adobe's need to constantly watch its back for hackers inhibits its ability to keep up with the trends.
As a user, especially on a business network housing sensitive information, this underlines the importance to be increasingly cautious when websites want to install drivers or applets to power media content. You should only download such files from highly trusted sources and only when absolutely necessary to use a web page. A little caution goes a long way, but if you think your system may have been compromised, contact your administrator as soon as possible.
If you're interested, you can download the full McAfee report here.
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